We list five food items that, due to their PGI tag, cannot be claimed by other countries.
Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) is a tag used to identify an agricultural product whose qualities are linked to the place of its origin. Usually, a geographical indication includes the name of the place or geographical origin of the goods. The law protects the names of goods and ensures that they are called so only when produced in the specific region that they are identified by, making them the intellectual property of that region.
India is rich in agricultural resources and the production of food items contributes to the country’s economy to a great extent. Some of the agricultural goods that the country produces are region-specific and have come to be identified with the place of their origin. Owing to this, there are a few food items that have been awarded PGIs within the country. Here are five such items that, due to their PGI tag, cannot be claimed by other countries:
Manipuri black rice
Also known as ‘chakhao’, Manipuri black rice was awarded Protected Geographical Indication as recently as 2020. This variety of rice is high in antioxidants, mainly due to its black colour, and has a nutty flavour that makes it unique. It is also characterised by a distinct aroma. Manipuri black rice is an important part of community feasts and is also served in the form of chakhao kheer.
A popular tea time snack, Bikaneri bhujia from Rajasthan was awarded Protected Geographical Indication in 2010. Bikaneri bhujia uses moth bean flour, besan and spices, and has been known for generating employment for around 2.5 million people who contribute to its production. The first batch of the snack was produced during the reign of Maharaja Shri Dungar Singh in 1877.
Cultivated in West Bengal, gobindabhog rice is an aromatic variety of rice that has a buttery flavour. An integral part of Bengali cuisine, it was awarded Protected Geographical Indication in 2017. It is mainly cultivated in regions like Hoogly, Birbhum and Burdwan. The name ‘gobindabhog rice’ comes from the fact that it is the main ingredient in offerings prepared for the worship of Govindaji, who is a family deity.
Kahsmiri saffron’s high quality and pleasing aroma made it a strong candidate for Protected Geographical Indication. Kashmir is known for its saffron exports across the world. The saffron produced in the state is cultivated with great care. It is handpicked and sorted manually, which ensures that the taste and aroma remains intact. These qualities make Kashmiri saffron the most expensive saffron variety in the world.
Darjeeling tea was awarded Protected Geographical Indication in 2011. This ensures that only the tea produced in Darjeeling can be sold under the name ‘Darjeeling tea’ in other countries. This status is well-deserved since Darjeeling tea is one of the finest in the world, with a delicate aroma and musky flavour. It has been estimated that the European Union imports around 3-4 million kg of Darjeeling tea, which contributes to nearly 60% of Darjeeling’s tea export.