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KARBI GINGER - AND ITS CHALLENGES ON BEING GIVEN

GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATIONS

1. INTRODUCTION

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “India lives in villages and agriculture is the soul of Indian
economy”. Agriculture in India is not only a source of income but also a culture. It is a prime
spindle of the Indian economy. Since independence India has made a great success in the
field of agriculture, i.e. from import of food grains to self-sufficiency and export. The country
has established its primacy in agriculture at global level through green revolution.

India is rightly called as “spice bowl of the world” for its production of variety and superior
quality of spices. Growing spices for various purposes has been famous since the ancient
times. The spices are grown throughout the country from tropical to temperate climate. India
has highest number of spice varieties in the world. Among the spices, ginger is one of the
mainstays in Indian spice account, which has been used for flavoring and medicinal purposes.
Ginger, the rhizome or the underground modified stem of the plant 'Zingiber Officinale
Roscoe' of' Zingiberaceae' family, is an important commercial spice crop grown from very
ancient times in India. It is one of the earliest oriental spices known to Europe and is still in
large demand.

Ginger (Zineiber officinale Rosc.) is an important member of the Zingiberaceae family. It is


one of the important cash crops and spices grown in India and in many other tropical and sub-
tropical regions of the world. Due to its distinct flavor and pungency, it is used in culinary
preparations, pharmaceutical preparations, as a flavoring in soft drinks, alcoholic and non-
alcoholic beverages, and as a confectionary, pickle, etc. India is the largest producer and
exporter of ginger.

India exports ginger to more than 50 countries, particularly the Middle East. India also
produces and exports value added ginger products like ginger oil and ginger oleoresin. Ginger
is marketed in different forms such as raw ginger, dry ginger, bleached ginger, ginger
powder, ginger oil, ginger oleoresin, ginger ale, candy, beer and wine, squash, ginger flakes,
etc. The dried rhizome is preferred for commercial uses.
Northeast an integral part of India has also contributed in this success, as Karbi Anglong in
our own state of Assam has managed to secure global recognition in its production of unique
organic ginger. Karbi Anglong is considered an important ginger growing area. The agro-
climatic conditions of Karbi Anglong, characterized by warm and humid summers with
abundant rainfall, and cool winters, are favorable for ginger cultivation.

Karbi Anglong supplies raw ginger to the rest of India (Delhi, Siliguri, and Kolkata) and this
is exported to West Asia and other western countries. Northeastern India, particularly the
Karbi Anglong district, has played a major role in the fast-expanding organic market. It has a
natural advantage in terms of large tracts of land, particularly in the tribal belt where
traditional agricultural practices are still in vogue. In most of these places, no chemical
fertilizer or pesticides are used. And, thus due to its organic nature (organic by default) the
Government of India has accorded it with Geographical Indication tag. But the advantages
and profits had not percolated down to the poor and marginal tribal farmers. The farmers
were always at the mercy of middlemen.1

Most of the farmers belong to ethnic groups with marginal landholdings and are easy prey for
middlemen. Ginger cultivation has an immense potential for improving their lot if they
receive appropriate returns for their produce.

More than half the ginger oil and oleoresins traded in the world market is from India, and the
ginger produced in Assam, particularly in Karbi Anglong, qualifies for export. It is estimated
that if the potential for ginger in Assam is properly exploited, the annual volume of business
could be more than Rs. 200 crore.2

2. HISTORICAL REFERENCE

Ginger cultivation began in South East Asia and has since spread to different parts of the
country. The English name ginger comes from French: ‘gingembre’, Old English: ‘gingifere’,
Medieval Latin: ‘gingiber’, Greek: ‘zingiberis’. Ultimately the origin is from the Dravidian
word ‘inji ver’. The botanical term for root is ‘ver’, hence ‘inji root’ or ‘inji ver’.3

1
http://www.easternponoramo"in/index.php?option=conLconten&view=articte&id=43g:organic-ginger-
ofkarbiangIong-&citation date-3Ist July
2
Ibid.
3
http://ipindiaservices.gov.in/GI_DOC/435/435%20-%20Statement%20of%20Case%20-%2029-08-2013.pdf
It is considered that the Karbi Anglong Ginger exists from the time when Karbi Anglong
District (1951) was formed. It is grown in "Singhasan Hills", khonbamon. The climatic
conditions and soil in Singhasan hills is suitable for growing Karbi Anglong Ginger. Earlier
the importance of Karbi Anglong Ginger was not known to other parts of Assam and its
neighboring states but with the advent of GINFED it got its popularity. Due to the
involvement of Traders and brokers, farmers didn't get their remunerative amount for their
Ginger Cultivation. But with the inception of GINFED (Ginger Growers Cooperative
Federation Ltd) the exploitation of farmers has also reduced a lot and they are setting their
desired amount.

In 2003, the hill district of Karbi Anglong witnessed a series of clashes between Karbi and
Kuki ginger growers of Ginger Plant the Singhasan hills. The district was rocked by gun
battles between the militant Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) and the United People's
Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), militant outfits of Kukis and Karbis respectively, in October
and November 2003, 50 persons died in these clashes. Several hundred people were injured
and thousands of villagers belonging to both communities were rendered homeless in the
two-month-long violence.4

The UPDS banned ginger cultivation in the Singhasan hills, terming it a threat to the
environment, as the slash-and-burn method of cultivation was adopted. It called a seven-day
economic blockade against the alleged destruction of forest by ginger growers, an
overwhelming majority of them Kukis. The organization set fire to several ginger-laden
trucks during the agitation.5

Kuki organization on the other hand, alleged that each ginger-laden truck was forced to
cough up between Rs.5, 000 and Rs.20, 000 to the UPDS, and the refusal by Kuki farmers to
pay the money infuriated the organization. The clashes continued in 20O4.6

3. PROPERTY AND USES

Ginger has numerous applications in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. There
are two primary products of the ginger rhizome, fresh ginger and dried ginger. Fresh ginger is

4
http://www.easternponoramo"in/index.php?option=conLconten&view=articte&id=43g:organic-ginger-
ofkarbiangIong-&citation date-3Ist July
5
Ibid.
6
Ibid.
consumed as a vegetable. The dried products are the major form in which ginger is
internationally traded. Dried ginger is used directly as a spice and also for the manufacture of
products like ginger powder, ginger oil and candy and ginger oleoresin. Ginger is an
important spice used as taste maker, flavor ant, as an appetizer and in drugs, in fresh, dried or
powdered form. Importance of ginger for health is known from Vedic time, mentioned it as
“Mahushad” (meaning great medicine) and Vishwa Bheshajam (meaning universal
medicine). The entire Kashayam of Ayervedic medium has dried ginger as its ingredient.
Ginger improves voice, digestion, removes toxins from body, improves vitality and
strengthens the heart. Thus, ginger has been used over 5000 years both for medicinal
properties and culinary values. With an appeal for ginger-based preparations, extract of
ginger, ginger oil etc., have been encouraged. It is very useful for cold induced diseases,
nausea, asthma, cough, heart palpitation and home remedy in the country as it was 2000 years
ago. These added medicinal values besides taste-maker needs to be popularized, supported
with clinical tests having scientific evidences. Ginger promotes gastric secretion and is
excellent for many kinds of digestive complaints, including indigestion, colic and wind.
Ginger stimulates the circulation and is therefore beneficial for circulatory complaints
including poor blood supply to the hands and feet and for chilblains. In fevers, Ginger is able
to induce sweating, thereby helping to reduce body temperature. Ginger is a wonderful aid for
helping the liver to rid itself of stored toxins. However, the following properties are of
particular use for therapeutic purposes:

 Antispasmodic: It relaxes all types of muscle.


 Aromatic: Gingers' aroma, flavour and warmth help to stimulate the digestive system.
 Carminative: The volatile oils in Ginger relax the stomach and stimulate peristalsis
(the wavelike motion of food through the gut) thereby supporting digestion and
reducing gas.
 Diaphoretic: It induces perspiration and the elimination of toxins through the skin.
 Rubefacient: Applied to the skin, Ginger stimulates and dilates the blood capilliaries,
increasing circulation.
 Sialogogue: It promotes the secretion of saliva.
 Stimulant: As a circulatory aid, its supports and speeds up the bodys' physiological
systems.
The freshly harvested ginger is used for consumption as green ginger in whole northeastern
states. Little amount of surplus is sold outside the region through middlemen at a very low
prices. Sometimes due to marketing problem the farmers are not able to sell their produce
since there is no local market big enough to absorb and handle green ginger in large
quantities. Therefore, it is essential to convert a part of produce into low volume high value
ginger to make the crop remunerative. As it is abundantly available in the region, different
products like ginger oil, ginger oleoresin can be prepared for export, which are very common
in developed countries. Dried ginger (called saunth) can also be prepared and it may be either
sold as such or in the form of an off white to very light brown powder, The dried ginger or
ginger powder is generally used in manufacturing of ginger brandy, wine and beer in many
western countries. Ginger oil is primarily used as a flavoring agent in confectionary and for
soft drinks. The ginger is also used for several medicinal purposes.

4. DISTINGUISHING CHARECTERISTICS OF THE KARBI GINGER

Ginger (Gingiber offinale) is one of the five most important species of India. Ginger is ranked
fourth in value among all the species exported from India next to pepper, chillies and
turmeric.

There are basically two varieties of ginger grown in Karbi Anglong – Nadia, with high fiber;
and Aizol with less or no fiber. Aizol is more in demand and has negotiating value in
Domestic and the international market. Karbi Anglong produces the best organic ginger in the
world. The ginger grown in Karbi Anglong has low fiber content. Varieties such as Nadia and
Aizol, having high dry rhizome and high recovery of oleoresin oil, are in demand among
domestic buyers and exporters.

Karbi Anglong District of Assam is considered an important ginger growing area. The agro-
climatic conditions of the area, characterized by warm and humid summers with abundant
rainfall, and cool winters, are favorable for ginger cultivation. Mostly two varieties of ginger
viz., Nadia and Bhola are cultivated in the district. Aizol Variety is also a common variety
grown by the farmers. The rhizome of Nadia variety is medium to bold, light brown in
colour, pungent, smells strongly with a spicy smell. Bhola variety is also similar in colour and
odour with a pungent and spicy smell.7

5. KARBI GINGER NOW GI ACCORDED

A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical
origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a
GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities,
characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin.
Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link
between the product and its original place of production.8

Mechanism in India: GI Act 1999

Government of India enacted Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and


Protection) Act in 1999. This act came into force in 2003. As per this act:

1. Application to be made to the Registrar of Geographical Indications.


2. Intellectual Property Appellate Board to hear appeals over the decisions of the Registrar
of Geographical Indications.
3. Geographical Indications Registry to keep the GI-database at Chennai.
4. GI can be given to agricultural, natural or manufactured goods originating in the said
area.
5. GI rights are given to an association of persons, producers, organization. It is a
“community right”. Because geographical indications are not built up by one individual
but by a community of persons
6. Registration of a geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years and can be
renewed.

7
http://ipindiaservices.gov.in/GI_DOC/435/435%20-%20Statement%20of%20Case%20-%2029-08-2013.pdf
8
http://www.wipo.int/geo_indications/en/
North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC) had
applied for GI tags for agro products of the North East which have got the GI tag from the
Chennai-based Geographical Indication Registry.9

Karbi Anglong Ginger is a GI tagged ginger, eponymous to the Karbi Anglong district of
Assam, and grown by Kuki and other communities of the region. It is the best organic ginger
in the world.

The proposed Geographic Indication of Karbi Anglong will have the following advantageous
effects that can change the fortunes of the State. It will help the various stakeholders with
initiative from the State Government in the following areas.

 Promote Assam as a promising investment destination for Ginger Plantation and


Processing through leveraging the Industrial & Investment Promotion Policies.
 Identify business opportunities in setting up processing units and aligning them with
benefits extended by the Central and State Government for the development of the
Karbi Anglong Ginger farmers and growers.
 Creating a brand for Karbi Anglong Ginger for positioning it appropriately in the
domestic as well as the international market.
 Safeguard the interests of the growers by positioning the Karbi Anglong Ginger as a
catalyst for the economic and social growth of the state.

The longer term effects of the Gl Registration will include

 Identifying the key issue that is in need to be addressed, for enabling private potential
investors from across the country to invest in Assam by way of backward integration.
 Creation of intermediate & cost effective technologies for Cultivation, Harvesting &
Processing and enable them to integrate with the value chains.

Inspection Body

Internal Watchdog mechanism the quality of Assam Karbi Anglong Ginger will be monitored
by internal watchdog mechanism in order to maintained the original physical and chemical
characteristics as per GI registration by the following committee members

• Producer groups of Karbi Anglong Ginger

9
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/guwahati/Assams-pungent-ginger-juicy-litchi-get-GI-
tag/articleshow/46749348.cms
• Horticulture department officers

• Technical officer from Spice Board. • Representative of NERAMAC in Assam This


committee will also help regulate the use of Geographical Indications for the welfare of local
farming community.

The committee will frame the terms and conditions to use brand name of GI registered Karbi
Anglong Ginger by any of the marketing agency. The logo of Karbi Anglong Ginger will be
used to create brand image of GI registered produce. Regulation of GI in the territory to
regulate the use of GI in the territory, the Inspection Structure is proposed to consist of the
following members:

• Senior Scientist from ICAR Institute

• Technical Officer, Spice Board

• Director of Horticulture, Govt. of Assam

• Farmer Member

• State representative, NERAMAC

• Block level Horticulture Officer (s) from the production area of Karbi Anglong Ginger

Farmers growing Karbi Anglong Ginger in the geographical production area will be
identified and will be allotted an identification number to ensure traceability and quality.

6. PROBLEMS FACED BY THE FARMERS EVEN AFTER GIVEN GI

The pungent Karbi Anglong ginger of Assam have got the coveted geographical indication
(GI) tags, making this item an incontrovertible proof of its origins in the state and protecting
it from production elsewhere. But even though being accorded with the Geographical
Indication, the farmers are facing many problems, which have resulted in low productivity of
the organic ginger. Listed below are few of the major problems faced by the farmers of Karbi
Anglong:
 Shifting cultivation: This practice has numerous harmful effects on soil and climate. It
ultimately affects crop production and economy of hill people. In addition it is a
socio-cultural problem.10
 Rural electrification: Availability of assured and abundant cheap power in the rural
areas is a pre-requisite for the introduction of perennial irrigation in the agricultural
fields.
 Although there is an increase in the area and production of ginger in the district, yet
there is no significant increase in the yield of ginger.
 Seed cost is having a lion’s share of the total variable cost of cultivation of ginger.
 The rental value of owned land is the major reason contributing to the total fixed cost
of ginger cultivation.
 The net return obtained was the highest for the large farms, followed by the medium
and then by the small farms.
 All the farm households irrespective of their size group are earning some profit from
the production of ginger as the costs are less than the market price of ginger.
 The large farms are the most efficient households in terms of input use.
 The market intermediary has nearly 50 per cent of the share in the consumer’s rupee.
 The price spread increases with the increase in the number of middlemen in the
marketing channel.
 The most effective channel in marketing of ginger is Producer – Retailer - Consumer.
 Lack of facilities of storage and value addition, poor market, absence of information,
and price uncertainty make the marketing of ginger inefficient, inequitable and
exploitative in the district.

GINFED (Ginger Growers Cooperative Marketing Federation Limited, Karbi Anglong,


Diphu) is a nascent organization, who has come up with the objective to protect the rights
of the framers growing ginger in Karbi anglong and to provide with measures to tackle
the above mentioned problems.

10
Chowdhury, S.K. 1984: Problems and Prospects of Agriculture in Karbi Anglong District., Ph.D. Thesis,
Guwahati University
7. GINFED CONTRIBUTION:

GIN-FED's market intervention and support mechanism have gone a long way in reducing
the ethnic tension. The spice crop has now been brought under one umbrella of not only
Karbi and Kuki ginger growers but also ginger growers belonging to other tribes. In order to
prevent extortion by militants, GIN-FED has arranged crediting payment against ginger
procured directly to the growers' bank accounts.11

Prime Objectives of GIN-FED12

- To bring all the Ginger growers of the district under one umbrella.

- To avoid distress sale of Ginger.

- To directly link the growers to the market to enhance their profitability.

- Ensure more income by value addition (Cleaning, gradin& waxing dehydration and
packaging).

- To find out various marketing avenues in ginger marketing.

- To uplift economic condition of ginger growers by linking credit facilities (Bank loan) as
seed capital through Banks by means of G-Card.

- To introduce organic ginger of Karbi Anglong in National and International Market.

Norms of Procurement and Marketing of Ginger:13 -

 GIN-FED will collect all market information, tie up with prospective buyers, obtain
bulk supply orders with suitable payment norms, and arrange shipment in bulk
through Rail/Road Transport.
 GIN-FED will arrange procurement, primary processing like cleaning/grading,
waxing, packaging etc. along with arrangement of suitable transport.
 GIN-FED will not be bound to procure all the ginger produce by G-Card holders and
the growers are free to sale their produce to any buyer as the basic aim of GIN-FED is
to maintain a basic minimum price at the arrival in Local Mandis.

11
http://ipindiaservices.gov.in/GI_DOC/435/435%20-%20Statement%20of%20Case%20-%2029-08-2013.pdf
12
Ibid.
13
Published by the Senior Agriculture Development Officer (Marketing), Diphu on behalf GIN-FED
Ltd. http://karbianglong.nic.in/ginfed.html
 Procurement price will be fixed for a stipulated time period of 1 to 2 weeks only
according to the national level mandi price in that particular period.
 GIN-FED will arrange sale to the bulk purchases at a competitive price. Whatever
extra money earned over the cost will go to the shareholder’s coffer.
 G-Card holder can obtain bank loan of maximum Rs.10, 000 for crop production of 2
(two) bighas of land from the SB/LDRB Bank branches in their locality. GIN-FED
will not provide any crop loan to the G-Card holders however it will facilitate the card
holder to obtain Bank loan to the needy farmers and help the concerned bank in
recovering the loan amount at the time of procurement.

After the GIN-FED has helped the farmers, now the farmers enjoy their rights and have
contributed to the increase in the productivity of ginger. But few plant protective
measures should be followed to preserve the organic nature of the ginger.

 Pests: Shoot borer is the major pest infesting ginger. Regular field surveillance and
adoption of phytosanitary measures are necessary for pest management. It appears
during July -October period. Spraying of neem oil at fortnightly intervals is found to
be necessary. Light traps will be useful in attracting and collecting the adult moths.
 Diseases: Soft rot or rhizome rot is a major disease of ginger. While selecting the area
for ginger cultivation care should be taken to see that the area is well drained as water
stagnation pre- disposes the plants to infection. Select seed rhizomes from disease free
areas since this disease is seed borne. However, if the disease is noticed, the affected
clumps are to be removed carefully along with the soil surrounding the rhizome to
reduce the spread. Restricting the use of Bordeaux mixture in disease prone areas may
be made to control it as spot application.

8. CONCLUSIONS

Spices are high value and export oriented commodity crops, which play an important role in
agricultural economy of the country. India is the principal source for supply of spices in the
global market though there are number of other countries viz. Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan,
Australia, Spain, Egypt, Tanzania, etc., producing and exporting to the international market.
The north-eastern region comprising of states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur,
Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura has tremendous potential for production
of spice crops. The climatic condition of the region is highly suitable for cultivation of a large
number of spices such as ginger, turmeric, chilli, tejpat, large cardamom, coriander, and
garlic. Though recently introduced, the region has a potential for commercial cultivation of
black pepper, cumin, vanilla and saffron.

Among all spices, ginger is the main cash crop supporting the livelihood and improving the
economic level of many ginger growers of north eastern region.

In spite of the fact that ginger is an important and oldest spice crop in North East region, no
major breakthrough has been noticed in boosting the production and increasing export of
ginger. Since it is vegetatively propagated crop, lack of consciousness in selection of high
yielding varieties and several characters must presumably have occurred in the past. There
had also been interchange of materials, but with all these there has not been tangible increase
in the production.

Karbi Anglong produces the best organic ginger in the world. The average annual production
of 30,000 tons is grown by about 10,000 farmers. GIN-FED wants to motivate its
shareholders to go in for value addition so that the ginger products fetch a higher price in the
global market.

GI registration of Karbi Anglong Ginger is set to open the gateway to international market for
it. Following its GI registration, Assam will be introduced on the global Ginger map and the
State Assam will emerge as a brand for diversity and uniqueness in horticulture produce.
There is a lot of scope of building upon the potential and target international market for more
such unique produces including Karbi Anglong Ginger. Some more advantates regarding
export has been listed below

 Proximity to China has emerged as the largest trading partner for India.
 Proximity to Southeast Asian countries has become important players in India's
overall trade and investment relations.
 Bordering countries, Myanmar and neighboring Bangladesh, have become important
trading partners for North-east region.
 Look East Policy of the Government of India, in order to diversity the geographical
spread of India's international trade
The GI registration and its subsequent promotion have helped develop demand from other
South Asian countries, which has helped the state move forward towards self-dependency.
Farmers have also been benefited by the increased demand which can fetch better price for
them. With GI registration of Karbi Anglong Ginger, it has given a boost to the Processing
Sector of Assam.

Thus, the step taken by NERAMAC in giving the Karbi Ginger GI is highly appreciated, at
the same time, the role played by the GIN-FED in protecting the rights of the farmers as well
as promoting and increasing the productivity of the organic ginger of Karbi Anglong
worldwide is respected.