Two varieties of Arabica coffee grown in the hills of Baba Budangiri in Chikkamagaluru and Coorg could soon get a Geographical Indication (GI) tag. The first coffee in India is said to have been grown in Baba Budangiri.
The coffee board has filed an application with the Geographical Indication Registry at Chennai seeking GI-tags for five varieties of coffee including the Baba Budangiri type. The other varieties are Coorg Arabica, Wayanad Robusta, Chikmagalur Arabic and Araku Valley Arabica.
K Basavaraj, Coffee Board head (coffee quality), told The Times of India, "We have applied for the GI marker and we are also profiling the majority variety grown in Baba Budangiri, a variety called Selection-795."
According to the India Coffee Board, the Selection-795 or S-795 variety "is by far the most popular Arabica selection released during the 1940s with high yields, bold beans, superior quality and relative tolerance to leaf rust. This selection was developed using 'Kents' Arabica, known for its high quality. Even today, the S.795 is a favourite with the planters and is a widely cultivated Arabica variety. S.795 has a balanced cup with subtle flavour notes of Mocca."
This variety is grown across 15,000 hectares in the Baba Budangiri hills. It is said that coffee was introduced to the region in the 17th century by a legendary saint called Baba Budan. Baba Budan planted the first coffee seeds that he had got from Yemen in the hills that got his name.
The GI-tag is a component of the intellectual property rights of individuals or groups.
The Indian government maintains a Geographical Indications Registry, which is a list of the GI tags which have been offered to those who have sought it based on the proof of their ownership.
Geographical Indications of goods is defined as that industrial property which refers to the geographical indication from where the product is considered to have been originated.
GI-tags are serious business, and patent owners take it very seriously.
Once the GI is allotted to a product, the same product name cannot be used for products that are manufactured or grown outside the registered geographical boundaries.
For example, 'Kancheepuram Silk' has a GI tag, so now no one can sell any other variety of silk with the label 'Kancheepuram Silk' which is manufactured outside Kancheepuram. Violation of GI tags is a punishable offence under the law.