Jamdani, a traditional fabric of the country, has been recognised as a Geographical Indication (GI) product of Bangladesh, a move that is expected to facilitate its weavers to brand the indigenous cloth in a better way at home and abroad.
The Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) yesterday registered Jamdani as the country's first GI product and handed over a certificate to the chairman of the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) during a ceremony.
“This is a step forward in our efforts to protect the rights of our indigenous product,” said Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu at the programme at the ministry.
After the GI registration, the DPDT would register weavers for using the GI tag in Jamdani products. The BSCIC earlier submitted a list of nearly 400 weavers who are involved in making the fabric.
Jamdani got the GI tag a few years after India registered “Uppada Jamdani” sari as a GI product. India's move caused concern among many people in Bangladesh, as they thought Bangladesh might lose GI recognition for Jamdani despite having a century-old tradition.
On behalf of Jamdani producers, the state-run BSCIC applied to the DPDT for GI registration for Jamdani in September last year.
The DPDT on August 4 this year published a GI Journal on Jamdani and waited for two months, as per its rule, to see whether anyone had any objection to the registration of the fabric as a GI product.
The two-month period expired in early October. As the DPDT did not receive any objection, it proceeded on to give GI tag to Jamdani, said officials.
Minister Amu said there would be no questions now that Jamdani got GI registration.
GI is a name or sign used on certain products to certify that they possess certain qualities because they are made as per traditional methods or enjoy a certain reputation due to their geographical origin.
As per rules, an association of producers or a government organisation that works to safeguard producers' interests can apply for GI tag of a product, said officials.
Jamdani, a surviving variety of muslin, is characterised by geometric or floral designs. For centuries, it has been a coveted textile both at local and international market, according to Banglapedia, the national encyclopaedia of Bangladesh.
From various historical accounts and folklore, it may be assumed that a fine quality of fabrics was available in Bengal as far back as the first century AD, it said.
In the GI Journal, the DPDT also referred to the historical accounts related to the tradition of weaving fine textiles in Bengal.
The DPDT said Jamdani has been weaved in Dhaka district for more than centuries, especially on the bank of Shitalakkhya. Its water was used for making colour in the fine clothes.
The minister said muslin from Bengal was once a globally famous and adored cloth. “We have been able to retain that heritage because of Jamdani,” he said.
Annually, Bangladeshi weavers make more than 2 lakh pieces of Jamdani sari, which is also exported abroad. Some 68,000 people are directly and indirectly involved in Jamdani, which has also been recognised as a world heritage by the Unesco.
Minister Amu said the process to recognise hilsa as a GI item was underway.
Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, senior secretary of the industries ministry, said, “Gradually, we'll give GI registration to more products.” He referred to fazli mango and silk of Rajshahi, nakshi kantha, sathranji and sweets in this regard.
The senior secretary said GI tags to the product would ensure good prices in the international market and thus be beneficial for the people involved in the trade.
DPDT Registrar Sanowar Hossain said products that are popular due to their geographical origin did not have any tag for branding like industrial product.
Now, GI registration would help branding of products, he said.
Citing studies, Sanowar said buyers pay 10-30 percent higher prices for a good GI product.
Buyers would also get better quality products, he added.