Tussle over Fazli mango’s origin
Rajshahi's move to secure a geographical indication certificate for its Fazli mango has suffered a setback after Chapainawabganj claimed the renowned fruit as its own.
The department of patents, designs and trademarks (DPDT) of the industries ministry published an article in its GI journal on October 6, 2021, declaring Fazli mango as "Rajshahi's Fazli mango". The state agency also published it in two international journals.
But on December 5, a day before the official deadline to raise any objection to the DPDT recognition expired, the Chapainawabganj Krishi Association submitted a notice to the department, staking a claim that the fruit belongs to Chapainawabganj and opposed the registration.
Munjer Alam, secretary of the association, says they have had enough evidence to prove that the Fazli mango belongs to Chapainawabganj, not Rajshahi.
"The history of Fazli is related with the district, not with Rajshahi," he told The Daily Star.
According to the association's notice, once South Malda was famous for mango cultivation. After the partition in 1947, the whole South Malda became Chapainawabganj district. The naming of Fazli mango is related with one Fazlibibi of Gaur.
The Rajshahi Fruit Research Centre applied to the DPDT for the geographic labeling of Fazli mango on March 9, 2017.
"We have presented all the historical facts and evidences along with the application letter earlier, all of which are in our favour that Fazli mango belongs to Rajshahi," said Alim Uddin, principal scientific officer of the centre.
According to Alim, Fazli mango is being cultivated in nine upazilas of Rajshahi. Among the upazilas, Fazli of Bagha upazila is well-known. Bagha Fazli was even well-known in Kolkata 200 years ago.
The DPDT has sought a written argument from the research centre in this regard by February. "We are preparing ourselves accordingly," he said.
DPDT officials say the GI of products is verified and published in the journal as per rules.
A product is recognised as a GI item two months after the publication in the journal if there is no objection, said Md Abdus Sattar, registrar of the DPDT.
Nihar Ranjan Barman, examiner (patent) of the DPDT, said they would send a letter to the Chapainawabganj Krishi Association seeking arguments after getting feedbacks from the Rajshahi Fruit Research Centre.
"After getting the arguments of the Chapainawabganj Krishi Association, we will give the final decision on the right of Fazli mango," he said.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, GI is a name or sign used on some particular products to certify that they possess certain qualities enabled by the environment, weather and culture of a country.
This, in effect, facilitates branding highlighting traditions and reputation in the global market and creates a separate demand for the product. As a result, the path to commercial production, marketing rights and legal protection is secured.
GI-tagged products fetch higher prices compared to similar products in other countries.
Black tiger shrimp to get GI recognition soon
Bangladesh's black tiger shrimp is set to receive the GI certificate as none, both at home and abroad, has raised any objection.
Black tiger shrimps are grown in the southern coastal belts in the brackish water.
In May 2019, the Department of Fisheries applied for the GI recognition to promote black tiger shrimp as a specialised product of Bangladesh in the world market. The DPDT issued a gazette and published it in two international journals on October 6, 2021.
None had objected before the deadline had expired on December 6. A DPDT official said the certificate is expected to be issued this month.
Shaikh Sohel Pervez, secretary of the Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association, said the government should facilitate marginal farmers in various ways to increase shrimp production.
"After getting the GI certification, you have to hold it. The sales must grow. We should see how we can expand the existing market," he added.
According to GI Journal of the DPDT, Bangladesh is one of the top 10 producers of black tiger shrimps.
The country began cultivating the coveted food item in 1950. The farming expanded to 52,000 hectares in 1983-84, and the annual production reached 2,220 tonnes during that period.
Currently, Bangladesh is farming the shrimp commercially in more than two lakh hectares of land, mostly in coastal regions. The country produced 68,306 tonnes of black tiger shrimps in the fiscal year of 2016-17.
Black tiger shrimp is one of the export items of Bangladesh, accounting for nearly 60-70 per cent of the total fish shipment.
Nine products GI-certified
The DPDT certified Jamdani sari as Bangladesh's first GI product in 2016, and the second such product was Hilsa that was awarded in 2017. Chapainawabganj's Khirsapati mango received the certification a year later.
In March this year, six more products obtained GI certifications: Dhakai muslin, Rajshahi Silk, Rangpur's Shotoronji, Bijoypur's Sadamati, Dinajpur's Kataribhog, and Bangladesh's Kalijira paddy.