GIs for Protecting Agrobiodiversity and Promoting Rural Livelihoods: Status, Strategies and Way Forward
Keywords:Geographical Indications, Agricultural Products, Agro-biodiversity
AbstractIndia remains as one of the hotspots of agro-biodiversity with several closely related species ranging from rice, pulses, millets, vegetables, fruits and fibre plants. Such diverse agro-biodiversity is increasingly threatened by vagaries of weather and acquisition of agricultural land for industrialisation and urbanisation. In this paper, the relevance of Geographical Indications (GI), one of the intellectual property rights, as an important instrument to protect agro-biodiversity is attempted at. GI recognises the link between the geographical region and product by highlighting the uniqueness of the product like fragrance, taste, specific use, etc. Till July 2017, 83 agricultural products from across India have been protected under GI, including foodgrains, pulses and condiments. Protected GIs include well known products like Darjeeling tea, Basmati rice, Alphonso mango to relatively less known Kalanamak rice from Uttar Pradesh and Appemidi mango from Karnataka. Many of the GI protected products (except those under plantation) are grown in small areas by a few farmers and face threat of extinction due to fluctuating market and non-cultivation by farmers. Such extinction could lead to non-availability of a food product affecting food quality and safety as well as reduced access to food because of loss of market. GIs could be used to market such products by bridging asymmetry of information between sellers and buyers and thereby revive the farmersâ€™ interest. Such GI identification of unique agricultural products will help address the threat to biodiversity.
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