Goa’s feni may get geographical indication status

March 31st, 2008 - 5:56 pm ICT by admin  

Panaji, March 31 (IANS) The Goa government and feni manufacturers are intensifying their efforts to get geographical indication (GI) status for the liquor brewed locally from cashew apple and coconut tree sap. Dwijen Rangnekar, University of Warwick’s assistant law professor, March 28 announced plans for a stakeholder meeting on feni and geographical indications, to be held here in early April.

“The meeting is part of an academic research project, which began with field work in Goa from April to July 2007 and also involved a baseline survey of the sector,” Rangnekar said in a statement issued here.

The meeting will include people from the industry as well as those from civil society who have an interest in this issue and its implications. The government of Goa has been promoting the idea of a GI for feni and the industry is also extremely keen on it.

According to Rangnekar, Goa is looking at the GI law in India, how to apply for a patent in India or abroad, and what potential benefits the legal protection could bring.

“There will be presentations on products that have benefited from geographical indications, such as Tequila and Mezcal from Mexico, Scotch whiskey from the UK and Champagne from France,” he said.

A GI is a name or sign used on certain products whose origin corresponds to a specific geographical location. It is seen to act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities or enjoys a certain reputation due to its place of origin.

Once a product is registered as a GI, producers of other varieties of the same products cannot use the registered name to sell their goods. In India, the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration And Protection) Act, 1999 provides for the registration and better protection of geographical indications.

GI is not strictly a type of trademark. It does not serve to exclusively identify a specific commercial enterprise. In countries that do not specifically recognise GIs, regional trade associations may implement them in terms of certification marks.

Geographical indications have long been known in Europe, where there is a tradition of associating certain food products with particular regions. Products that have appellations of origin include Tequila (spirits), Jaffa (oranges) and Bordeaux (wines).

Examples of geographical indications from the US include oranges (Florida), potatoes (Idaho), onions (Vidalia) and apples (Washington State).

High-grade feni is 42 percent alcohol by volume. The liquor, which smells and tastes similar to thinner, is often used in cocktails. It is usually mixed with Coca Cola, tonic water or lemonade but can also be enjoyed on its own with a slice of lime.

There are an estimated 4,000 traditional mini-distilleries or stills in Goa that make cashew feni and about 2,200 making coconut feni.

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