M3 Features

GI tag for Bengal's rice varieties

November 1, 2015

After going all out to win for the state the GI tag for rasgulla, the West Bengal government has now initiated moves to get GI tags for two of the best varieties of rice grown in the state – Gobindobhog and Tulaipanji.

A geographical indication (GI) tag is an identification given to a product to indicate its specific geographical location or point of origin and ensures that none other than those authorised are allowed to use the name while marketing the product. These tags are accepted internationally.

According to the report submitted to the GI authorities based in Chennai by the state government, Gobindobhog is a non-basmati indigenous, aromatic rice being grown in Bengal for the last 300 years. This variety with short white kernels has a good cooking quality and a pleasant aroma, two key factors for making it famous all over the state. It is mainly cultivated during kharif season in Bardhaman district. Gobindobhog is popular in states like Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala as well.

Due to its pleasant smell and fine quality, boiled Gobindobhog rice is offered to gods during religious ceremonies, with religious literature as old as those from the 17th century mentioning this fact. It is used for making, among other things, payesh (a type of rice pudding), pitha, pulao, fried rice and biryani.

Tulaipanji is a variety of rice with an ancient lineage, with a 14th-century Sanskrit inscription mentioning it. The name comes from a Bengali word meaning aromatic and soft like cotton (‘tula’ means cotton). What sets this rice apart is that the grains can retain the aroma for around a year. Another important feature of this rice is its resistance to pests. Unlike Gobindobhog, producers of Tulaipanji are spread all over the state. Like the Gobindobhog, it is also used for preparing pulao, fried rice and biryani.

During 2014-15, 76,012 farmers cultivated Gobindobhog over an area of 32,055 hectares, with an annual turnover of Rs 311 crore. In 2013, 12,110 tonnes of Tulaipanji were sold.

GI recognition would help in the branding of these rice varieties and thus enabling their growing and selling in much larger quantities, both in India and abroad, with the resultant much higher incomes for farmers.

Feature image: Gobindobhog rice (purwaaii.com)

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