Artisans of the famed Banarasi sarees, Kutchi shawl weavers and Shahi Litchi farmers of Muzaffarpur will soon join the league of India’s traditional craftsmen and cultivators who have patented their craft under World Trade Organisation-mandated (WTO) norms for Geographical Indications.
Geographical Indications or GI are certifications granted to goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are unique to that place.
The United Nations Trade on Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has filed applications for patenting and grant of GI status for 17 new products and crafts from India that are unique to areas as diverse as Bhagalpur in Bihar, Gopalpur in Orissa and Balrampuram in Kerala (see table).
At present 106 products and crafts of India have been granted GI status. These include products such as Darjeeling tea, Lucknow Chikan craft, Kashmir Pashmina and Muga silk of Assam.
“Our research has shown that consumers are willing to pay more for products with genuine GI registration,” Abhijit Das, officer-in-charge of UNCTAD India Project told Hindustan Times.
A survey carried out by the UN agency showed that consumers are willing to pay 10 to 15 per cent more for GI certified agricultural products such as Darjeeling tea or Coorg green cardamom.
“In the case of non-agricultural products like handicrafts or even manufactured goods such as Mysore sandalwood oil and Feni from Goa, the survey shows that consumers are willing to pay upto a 10 per cent higher price for GI certified products,” said Das.
India follows a system whereby GIs can be granted by routing queries enshrined through the Geographical Indications of Goods (Restriction and Protection) Act 1999 and the Geographical Indications (Registration and Protection) Rules, 2002.
Applications are thoroughly investigated and scrutinised by the Controller General of Patents, Design and Trademarks, before grant of GI certification.
A study commissioned by Rajasthan Government’s Rural Non-Farm Development Agency has shown commercially beneficial results for artisans of Kota Doria Sarees that was granted GI status in 2005.
“The income of weavers has increased by 40 per cent and the Master Weavers Union has raised the rate of wages three times in as many years due increased demand of original Kota Doria handloom,” the study said.