Monday, 29 May, 2023

Geographical Indication Products of Bangladesh

Kakoly Talokder

Geographical Indication Products of Bangladesh
Kakoly Talokder

Geographical Indication (GI) products are assets to a state. The ownership of a product is given to a state through recognition, which opens up the avenue for economic prosperity, bringing in greater exposure both locally and internationally. There is a separate government department in Bangladesh named ‘Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks’ to grant GI accreditation and certification. The process of GI registration in the country got formalized with the GI recognition of Jamdani on 17 November, 2016.
GI recognition is granted to products with distinctive qualities exclusive to a particular geographical region of a country due to the soil, water, weather, specific technical skills, or a long-standing history within the local culture. So far, Bangladesh has 11 GI-recognized products featuring such qualities. And the recognition for many others is under way.
A brief description of 11 GI products of Bangladesh:
Jamdani Sari: Jamdani production on the river basin of Shitalakhya in the surrounding area of Dhaka has been going on for several centuries. There was a time when Bengal used to earn a large amount of foreign currency and garner huge reputation by exporting Jamdani to different countries around the world. It is still in high demand across the country and beyond. Jamdani production is closely associated with the climate surrounding the river Shitalakhya, the yarns and the fine craftsmanship of artisans. For a long time Dhakai Jamdani holds a special emotional place in the minds of Bengali women. Keeping that in mind, BSCIC applied for GI recognition for Jamdani in October 2015. Jamdani eventually obtained the GI recognition, the first in the country, in November 2016.
Bangladesh Hilsa: Hilsa fish has long been a part of Pahela Boishakh celebration in Bengali culture. Besides, Hilsa is our national fish. Hilsa amounts to 10 percent of total fish production of the country. Our Hilsa offers a distinctive taste, not found in any other country. On application filed by the Department of Fisheries, Bangladesh Hilsa was granted GI status in August 2017.        
Khirsapati Mango: Khirsapati Mangos are produced in Chapainawabganj, a region famed as the capital of mangoes. This is one of the best varieties of mangoes produced in this region. Khirsapati has been commercially produced for no less than 7 decades running, due to its fibre-free juicy pulp, delicious flavour, and overwhelming sweetness. Upon application from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute in 2017, Khirsapati Mango obtained GI recognition in early 2019.
Dhakai Muslin: There was a time when the world’s most valuable textile used to be exported from Bengal, which enriched the branding of this region among the elites of the world. It was, however, lost in time for a period, before being restored thanks to the efforts of the government in recent years. Dhakai Muslin was granted GI recognition in 2020 following application lodged by Bangladesh Handloom Board.
Rajshahi Silk: Rajshahi Silk is unparalleled in the country and beyond for its lustre and elegance. Its ability to absorb and retain air and moisture is at optimum level. That is the reason dresses made of silk are comfortable for all seasons. There was a time in history when Rajshahi silk yarns and fabrics used to be exported to different regions of Europe and to different markets of Asia such as Basra, Mecca, Jeddah etc. Europeans established 3 silk factories at Sarada, Kajala and Shiroil in Rajshahi in around 1901. With initiatives taken by Bangladesh Silk Development Board, Rajshahi Silk achieved GI status in 2021.
Shatranji of Rangpur: The weavers of Rangpur have been producing a special kind of carpet for several hundred years. Following the current demand, entrepreneurs are making miscellaneous products including floor mats, wall mats, wallets, door mats, prayer mats, and school bags. BSCIC applied for the GI rights of Shatranji in 2019 and the recognition came in 2021.
Kalijira rice of Bangladesh: Kalijira is a type of fragrant rice with distinctive features grown in almost all the regions of the country. This rice is given priority for different dishes including Pilaf (also called pulav or pulao) and Payesh (a sweet dish often served as desert item). Efforts from Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) saw the country acquiring GI rights for Kalijira rice in 2021.  
Kataribhog in Dinajpur: Kataribhog is one of the major varieties of rice grown in Dinajpur. The fragrance of this rice is exclusive to Dinajpur district, meaning the fragrance goes missing when cultivated in other districts. Therefore, Kataribhog got attached to its place of origin, Dinajpur, in its recognition as a GI product in 2021.
White Clay (Sada Mati) of Bijoypur: The white clay of Bijoypur in Netrokona is used as a raw material in the ceramic industry. The office of the Netrokona District Commissioner applied for the GI status of white clay, which was granted in 2021.  
Bagda Prawn of Bangladesh: Bagda Prawn is a saltwater fish, which is commercially produced in the country’s southeastern districts with the intention of exporting abroad. Bangladesh is one of the top ten producers of Bagda prawn worldwide. Department of Fisheries applied for the GI rights of Bagda prawn in 2019 and the recognition eventually came in 2022.
Fazli mango of Rajshahi-Chapainawabganj: The country’s latest GI product till date is Fazli mango. It is commercially produced in different parts of the country including Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj. Department of Patent, Design & Trademarks (DPDT) handed the GI certificate to both Rajshahi and Chapainawabganj in 2022, following applications submitted by Rajshahi Fruit Research Centre and Chapainawabganj Krishi Association.
It should be noted that the branding of any product increases manifolds once it gets GI recognition. As a result, there is a possibility of a likely increase in demand, production, employment etc.

The writer is President, e-Commerce Development Centre (EDC). Email: [email protected]