Assam’s Judima rice wine is northeast’s 1st traditional brew to get GI tag
Judima, a home-made rice wine of Assam’s Dimasa tribe has become the first traditional brew in all of northeast to bag a geographical indication (GI) tag.
Made from sticky rice, which is steamed and mixed with traditional herbs, the wine has a distinct sweet taste and takes around one week to prepare. However, it can be stored for years. It is a speciality of the Dimasa tribe of the state’s Dima Hasao district.
A GI tag is awarded to products associated with a specific geographical origin. Award of a GI sign not only helps in tracing the origins of products but also helps in confirming authenticity and marketing of indigenous specialities.
“We are elated at the recognition Judima has got. It has been the outcome of nearly three years of efforts,” said Subodh Maibongsha, principal scientist and head of Krishi Vikash Kendra (agriculture development centre) at Diphu in Assam.
“While efforts are underway to get the GI tag for some other traditional alcoholic beers made by different tribes in the region, Judima is the first such drink to get the recognition,” he added.
Maibongsa and his colleagues at Youth Association for Development and Empowerment (YADEM) had applied for the GI tag in late 2018 with the aim of providing the brew global recognition.
“Following suggestions that it would be better to apply through a women’s group (since Judima is traditionally made by women), we formed a women’s group called Dimajik Hasao and reapplied for the tag in 2019,” said Uttam Baithari, professor of history in Gauhati University, who is associated with the process.
“We would have got the GI recognition the same year, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions, it took several months, and finally we got it this month,” he added.
Baithari said that besides ensuring quality control mechanisms, the GI tag would enable those who have the right to its use to prevent its misuse by a third party whose product does not conform to the applicable standards.
“Judima is traditionally made in our homes, but we wanted to brand it and market elsewhere and also to ensure its preservation for the future. That’s why we formed our group and applied for the GI tag,” Mukuta Hojai, executive member of Dimajik Hasao said.
“Now that we have got the tag, we are looking at branding it and selling it in unique bottles shaped like a locally available gourd. We are also trying to ensure that the product is prepared in a universally accepted hygienic manner, maintaining uniform taste, flavor, texture etc,” she added.
The agricultural research division of Jorhat-based Assam Agriculture University acted as a facilitator in the process of Judima getting the GI tag. The division had earlier got three products of Assam including Kaji Nemu (a type of lemon), Joha Rice (a variety of flavoured rice) and Chokuwa Rice, the GI recognition.