news Tuesday, July 07, 2015 - 05:30
Caste is known to pervade all aspects of the lives of people within its system. Now, an upper caste group wants to retain ownership of a variety of the king of all fruits – the mango. With over 500 hectares of orchards, Kuttiattoor is the mango country of Kerala. The village, located in the northern district of Kannur produces 6,000 tonnes of what are locally known as “Nambiar mangoes”, that are in high demand in India and known abroad as “Kuttiattoor mangoes”. While the annual revenues generated are Rs 40 crore, a kilogram of the fruit in Kerala costs Rs 50.  Now, as the Kuttiattoor gram panchayat plans on obtaining a Geographical Indication for the “Kuttiattoor mangoes”, the Nambiar Maha Sabha (NMS) has taken objection and wants the mangoes to be called “Nambiar mangoes” only. Geographical Indications are international intellectual property rights under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) which identify a particular product as originating from a particular place and is of a certain quality. Speaking to The News Minute, Chairman of the NMS Rajesh Nambiar said: “Mangoes are a part of this village’s tradition and they have been called Nambiar mangoes until now. So we should protect the tradition. The name cannot be changed just like that.” He claimed that it was a conspiracy of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) which is ruling the panchayat. “CPI(M) is a party which is against caste and religion so they wanted to change the name. This is their hidden agenda,” Nambiar claimed.   Denying these claims, panchayat officials have said that the mangoes from the village have always been called Kuttiattoor mangoes. “To add these mangoes in National Item Identification List we should give a name to it. Since this village is known for mangoes we named the mangoes with the village name. However these mangoes are also called as Kuttiattoor mangoes outside our village. Nambiar is its colloquial name,” says Sujatha M President of the Kuttiattoor Panchayat. Why the name Nambiar? There are two stories behind this name. According to the NMS, mango trees and orchard were owned only by members of the Nambiar community, who would sell the fruit in the market themselves. “Since the mangoes were so tasty, everybody outside the village wanted to know where these mangoes are from and the answer was: it was from the Nambiars. That is how the mango was named Nambiar,” says Rajesh Nambiar. Another story also told in the village is that a Nambiar from Kuttiattoor was working in the royal family of Nileshwaram in Kasaragod district. One day the king presented him with a mango sapling, and the man took it home to his village and planted it there. Since the mango was very tasty, the villagers took seedlings of the tree and began to plant it in their homes as well, eventually calling it the Nambiar mango. Until the land reforms in Kerala in 1963, these mango trees were only seen in the Nambiar families. But now every house in the village has these mango trees. Recently scientists from Bangalore under National Horticulture Mission had visited Kuttiattoor to study the mangoes. The Kuttiattoor Mango Farmers association has been formed under the aegis of the panchayath with the export-oriented objective of increasing production and quality of the mango variety.