This article is a sequel to the one published in The Hindu on 20th March 2009 giving an insight to the fate of Byadagi Chilli producers of Karnataka which is expected to seek the Geographical Indication Certificate soon.. Byadagi Chilli, a chilli variety is grown in mainly nine districts of Karnataka namely Bellary, Haveri, Shimoga and Chitradurga (Bydagi region). The peculiarity of the chilli is its essentially sweet not spicy demeanor and its significance in Oleoresin industry as the oleoresin extracted from it is used in food, cosmetics (USA & Europe use this oil to make nail polish & lipstick), confectionary & beverage industry.
Supplementary to the non spicy character is its negligible presence of capsaicin which causes sensation in other chillies and its rich red colour which has increased its demand manifold in the food industry. The chilli owes its unique features to organic cultivation through minimum use of fertilizers and pesticides. The business involving Byadagi chillies has one of the biggest turnovers amongst all chilli varieties, to the tune of 82,010 tone of which 16,000 tone is held for domestic consumption, 9000 tone is exported in the potential markets of Europe & North America, Indonesia and Bangladesh while the rest 57,000 tones goes to the oleoresin industry. In 2007-08, the export of the chilli earned revenues worth Rs 200 crores.
These risible features of Byadagi chilli in conjunction with the growing competition from China & Pakistan has necessitated the filing of GI for them as the surfacing of fake Byadagi chili is affecting the interest of the farmers from Karnataka which commands huge premium in the international market. Thus it is indispensable to protect the brand identity. Consequently, GI application has been filed by GK Muthukumar, senior associate of Chennai based law firm from Anand & Anand on behalf of Spices Board with GI registry of India. Once the registration process is completed, nobody from any other place may legally cultivate and market “Byadagi Chilli”
A GI tag would be of great help to farmers to safeguard their livelihood and in getting better prices for their yield. This is required to prevent unauthorized users from misusing the product and thereby would protect consumers from deception & add to the economic prosperity of the chilly producers who take immense pain in maintaining the superiority and integrity of their chillies over other known chillies countrywide.
Union Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh inaugurated a chilly processing plant, set up at Byadagi in Haveri district; one of its own kind, it has
been set up by Government of India through STCL (a wholly owned subsidiary of Spices Trading Corporation of India, Ltd). The initiation of the government to uplift the cause of farmers is commendable & further such concrete approach would help our farmers cultivating a better quality produce which besides commanding a huge respect in international market would earn greater revenues for the country and nevertheless the real producers.
Perhaps this is just the beginning for the chilli cultivators as they set themselves for a promising future and healthy returns once they step into the family of GI granted products. What important is how well the farmers are able to retrieve the benefits out of this grant and carve a niche for themselves in this challenging task. Well, much has been said, I now look forward towards the read of this article to come forth with their views and suggestions with respect to the said context.