SHILLONG: In a landmark development, the Registrar of Geographical Indications (GI), Chennai, bestowed the coveted Geographical Indication tag No. 741 upon Lakadong Turmeric, marking a significant moment for the state and, notably, the farmers of Lakadong. The official recognition positions Lakadong as the global source of the finest turmeric.
The journey toward obtaining the GI for Lakadong commenced precisely four years ago, in October 2019. Under the leadership of Shri K.N. Kumar, Chairman of the Meghalaya Farmers’ (Empowerment) Commission, and Shri P. Sampath Kumar, IAS, then Commissioner & Secretary, Agriculture, the Meghalaya Institute of Entrepreneurship (MIE) formed a committee chaired by Smti. M.N. Nampui, IAS, then Secretary of Agriculture. This committee, tasked with selecting and empanelling IPR firms, ultimately chose North East Foundation (NEF), represented by Mr. Bhanu Pratap Singh, to pursue the GI for Lakadong Turmeric.
Supported actively by the Directorates of Horticulture/Agriculture, District Horticulture Officers, ICAR Scientists, farmer representatives, and the unwavering dedication of Mr. Demandson Lyngdoh, MAS, Project Officer of Mission Lakadong, the exhaustive process of gathering essential information and documents culminated in the submission to the Registrar of GI, Chennai. After several hearings and clarifications, the GI tag was officially awarded on November 29, 2023.
The surge in Lakadong Turmeric's popularity in both national and global markets, particularly post-COVID, has led to the mislabeling and marketing of turmeric products from other regions as Lakadong. This confusion results in losses for local farmers. The GI status acts as a shield, providing a unique selling point for small farmers. It enables them to differentiate their products, commanding higher prices and increased demand, especially in niche markets.
Beyond economic benefits, GI protects traditional methods and knowledge, ensuring that only those within the designated geographical area, utilizing traditional practices, can use the GI label. This safeguards local heritage and agricultural practices. The ripple effects of GI extend to rural development by promoting local products, securing better prices, and stimulating local economies.
As GI products gain recognition for their authenticity, they often command higher prices, contributing to increased revenue for small farmers. Furthermore, the promotion of GI products aligns with sustainable farming practices, contributing to environmental conservation and responsible resource use.
Lakadong's journey to Geographical Indication is not merely a certification; it's a catalyst for positive change, empowering farmers, preserving traditions, and opening new vistas in the global market.