The famed ‘Devgad’ Alphonso mango from Maharashtra’s Konkan region finds itself in the middle of a controversy with a Geographical Indication (GI) status being sought for the fruit by different parties.
The Devgad Taluka Mango Growers Cooperative Society has been seeking a separate GI status for the Devgad mango on the ground that mango growers from this region are losing out on a large chunk of revenue since other varieties of the Alphonso are being sold to customers as the Devgad Alphonso mango. The Konkan Agricultural University has also been attempting to get a GI tag for Alphonso with a claim that Alphonso mangoes from all the places and different geographical locations are the same.
The Kelshi Mango Growers Society, which represents Ratnagiri Alphonso mango growers, has also sought a separate GI status for the Ratnagiri Alphonso.
According to Ajit Gogate, chairman of the Devgad Taluka Mango Growers Cooperative Society, customers are being cheated in the name of Devgad Alphonso and instead, other varieties of the Alphonso are palmed off to customers. “Once we obtain the GI tag, none of the sellers can sell the fruit unless they are registered with our society,” Gogate said.
The cultivation of Alphonso is spread across Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Raigad and Thane districts of Maharashtra, as well as Dharwad and Belgaum districts of Karnataka. The demand for Alphonso mangoes from specific pockets in South Konkan region of Maharashtra has been high, he claimed.
Devgad is located in the South Konkan region of Maharashtra and various factors, including the climate and soil in this region, has been responsible for the particular taste and aroma of the fruit and therefore, the interests of the mango growers from this region needs to be protected, Gogate said, adding that Devgad taluka has the largest Alphonso mango production in the Konkan region.
The Devgad Alphonso mango has the highest composition of volatile compounds, lowest moisture content, and hence has a better taste and aroma among all Alphonsos grown across India, and thus is a preferred variety by customers, he said.
“We have conveyed our concurrence to the application of Ratnagiri Alphonso mango. We have already established the fact that Alphonso mango grown in different areas are different and that Alphonso mango is known by its geography. Since the GI area of Ratnagiri Alphonso mango is different, we have no objection to them being given a GI registration. Similarly, in the future, if producers growing Alphonso mango in other regions come forward to have a GI for their own region, we would not have any objection to them, as long as they do not claim a right on Devgad name and the Devgad GI area,” Gogate submitted at the hearing held at the GI India Patent office.
“We have seen the GI Authority give GI status to five varieties of banana, four varieties of orange and three types of jasmine, where each one has a distinct GI area for each product and its variety. In the same way, two varieties of Alphonso mango can also have GI registration for different areas and different geographical names,” he submitted.
“If the seller states that the Alphonso is from Devgad, there is a customer preference and willingness to pay a premium automatically,” he added.
The Devgad Taluka Amba Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit or Devgad Taluka Mango Growers Cooperative Society had filed the GI application in 2012. Two consultative group meetings of experts have been held since then — one in Hyderabad and the other in Chennai. The next hearing is slated for June 24.
The Devgad taluka Mango Growers Cooperative Society has also been selling mangoes online for the last four years.
The current season is the fifth consecutive year when they would be accepting orders online. In 2014, the company registered online sales worth `42 lakh and also started delivering consignments to all the metro cities.
This season the society has been targeting sales worth
`1 crore. Gogate said the
region usually produces around 50,000 tonnes of the fruit and this season the production had reduced by some 40% because of climate issues.