Geographical Indication: An Initiative To Promote Trade And Preserve Culture

What is common among Mizo Chiili, Sikkim Large Cardamom, and Kaji Nemu. Yes, these could be the ingredients of a great recipe, but these are also GI tagged products. GI or Geographical Indications is the Government of India’s initiative to tag and celebrate the specific geographical origin, quality, and characteristic that a product enjoys, given its place of origin. While the tagging contributes immensely towards standardising regional products. It also helps in safeguarding and promoting the reputation and distinctiveness of both product and the region it belongs to. However, calling the process easy, will be far from reality.

A great mark of authenticity, GI presents itself both as a basket of opportunities on one hand and that of challenges on the other. Adoption of GI tag is a work of constant pursuit by both business owners and policymakers.

Here I will explore the two sides of the GI, that presents itself both as an opportunity and challenge. Covering the good side first, this is how GI unpacks itself as a bundle of opportunity for trade, businesses, and the country at large.


International Trade: GIs open doors of international trade by protecting products’ names and reputation in foreign markets. Global markets that value and recognise GIs, enables businesses to expand their reach and increase exports, which further gives a thrust to economic development and employability factor.


Reputation & Trust: By establishing a reputation for quality and authenticity, GI tagging helps in bringing an instant confidence amongst consumers. The association of a specific region with the product adds value and establishes instant trust, loyalty, and reputation.

Market Differentiation: Offering valuable opportunities for businesses to differentiate their products in the marketplace, GIs highlight the uniqueness and qualities of the product, which gives it an immediate access to the mind of consumers, hence upping their preference quotient.

Tourism and Destination Marketing: GIs can serve as drivers of tourism and destination marketing. Unique regional products attract visitors seeking authentic experiences, fostering economic growth and cultural exchange. Businesses can leverage GIs to create immersive tourism experiences centered around local traditions and culture.


Counterfeiting & Imitation: Posing a major challenge to producers relying on GIs; unauthorised use of protected names can mislead or deceit the consumer and dilute the value associated with genuine products. Businesses need to implement robust measures to combat such infringements and protect their market share.

International Recognition: Needing extensive research, documentation, and legal procedures, achieving international recognition for GIs is a complex process. And it can be time-consuming and costly, which can hinder the businesses’ ability to fully leverage their GIs.

Legal Frameworks: Enforcing GI protection requires a strong legal framework and effective enforcement mechanisms. Regions lacking robust legal systems or with limited resources can inhibit the ability to enforce GI rights. Ensuring consistent and rigorous enforcement is crucial for the success of GIs.

Consumer Awareness & Education: Many consumers still do not fully understand the added value and distinct characteristics associated with GIs. This may further need extensive communication and marketing efforts to promote the GI tagged products effectively. Businesses must take cognizance of these realities and commit to investing in building awareness and education of the consumer.

Sustainability & Conservation: Climate change, pollution, and unsustainable practices pose threats to the ecosystem that support the production of GI tagged products, necessitating sustainable farming and production techniques. Preserving the environmental resources that contribute to the unique qualities of these products therefore becomes quintessential.

Small-Scale Producer Participation: Navigating the GI system due to limited resources, lack of knowledge, or difficulties in meeting regulatory requirements, limits the small-scale producers from participating in GI tagging. To ensure success and equitable distribution of GI benefits, inclusion and extension of support to the producers is a must, and it must be done both at the level of policymakers and businesses.

A comprehensive approach that considers the interests of all the stakeholders, equalises and fosters collaboration and cooperation amongst producers, business, policymakers, and consumers makes it possible for all concerned to reach a mutually beneficial ground. This can go a long way in preserving cultural heritage, promoting economic growth and further building strong trade relationships.

I would like to conclude by saying, “Inside all of us lie the labour of people before us”, let’s guard and preserve what we have inherited and pass it on with responsibility and pride.

Prashant Singh is the co-founder of Haath Ka Bana.


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