Amid branding row, bid for GI tag for makhana hits hurdle

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Published on Aug 27, 2020 08:45 PM IST
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ByBishnu K Jha

DARBHANGA

The application filed by Bihar Agriculture University (BAU), Sabour, on behalf of Purnia-based Mithilanchal Makhana Utpadak Sangh (MMUS) seeking geographical indication (GI) tag for makhana (fox nut) by the name of Bihar Makhana has hit a hurdle.

Prashanth Kumar S Bhairappanavar, senior examiner at Geographical Indications Registry under the government of India, has written to the MMUS regarding deficiencies in the application in respect of GI tagging for Bihar Makhana and sought to know how the outfit qualified as an applicant claiming to represent interests of producers.

“How does ‘Bihar Makhana’ qualify as Geographical Indications,” the letter also asks.

Dean (agriculture), BAU, Dr R R Singh, had submitted the application early this month to the registrar, Geographical Indication Registry, on behalf of the MMUS, while saying the proposal for GI was meant for ‘welfare of makhana growers’ from Bihar.

In the meantime, Vidyapati Sewa Sansthan (VSS), a literary and cultural organisation of Mithila region, has accused the state government of plotting to brand makhana of Mithila in the name of Bihar.

“Mithila is known across the globe for its specific aquatic crop makhana, which is intimately associated with local culture and is often held synonymous with it,” said VSS general secretary Baidyanath Choudhary ‘Baiju’.

He said Mithila region was the largest producer of makhana in the country. Hence, its branding must be in the form of Mithila Makhana, and not in name of Bihar Makhana.

Former Darbhanga MP Kirti Azad said Thursday that makhana crop had been associated with Mithila since ancient times and the ongoing effort to obtain GI tag in the name of Bihar makhana had triggered widespread protests on different forums. Azad has also sent a letter addressed to BAU’s dean while suggesting that GI tagging should be in the name of Mithila Makhana.

According to a Darbhanga based college principal Prof Vidyanath Jha, who is regarded as an eminent makhana researcher, “Makhana is one of the unique flora found in Mithila region, which accounts for 75 percent of makhana production in India. The aquatic crop is produced across over a dozen districts of north Bihar.”

Former principal of MLSM College, Darbhanga, Anil Kumar Jha, said Madhubani, Darbhanga, Saharsa, Katihar, Purnia, Araria, Supaul, Sitamarhi and Katihar districts of Mithila region were main centres for makhana production.

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