Kochi: India’s Malabar Grade 1 and Tellicherry pepper varieties as well as the Alleppey green cardamom have been accorded the Geographical Indication (GI) status, an international recognition of their uniqueness, hardly a month after Palakkad’s matta rice and the medicinal njavara rice grown in Kerala were given the status.
GI recognition gives legal status under World Trade Organization (WTO) norms and protects the varieties from unauthorized claims, said Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for commerce. This allows growers to establish a brand recognition for their produce and often command a premium price.
India’s GI laws became effective in 2003 to bring it in line with WTO’s trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS).
Trade promotion body Spices Board obtained the GI status for the pepper and cardamom varieties after a lengthy process at the Chennai-based Geographical Indications Registry, said board chairman V.J. Kurian.
The black Malabar Grade 1 pepper (MG1), known for the sharp spicy flavour of its berries, commands a prime spot in the world pepper market, though India’s annual production has fallen to 50,000 tonnes of pepper—most of which is MG1—pushing it to second spot after Vietnam.
The aromatic Tellicherry pepper, which accounts for a tiny portion of India’s spice production, is grown primarily in Thalassery, formerly Tellicherry, and northern parts of Kerala. Its dark brown corns are larger than the typical black pepper corns. The variety is known to be both aromatic and pungent, and is considered the most complex, balanced and elegant of peppers by connoisseurs.
Tellicherry pepper is more expensive than other varieties to compensate for an increased risk of loss from unfavourable weather or other factors, said S. Kannan, director at the Spices Board.
Alleppey green cardamom, a grade that is internationally accepted, gets its name from the tradition of trading in the commodity through the port of Alleppey, now Alappuzha, years ago in Kerala. The majority of the country’s nearly 9,000 tonnes of cardamom production is of this variety.
What sets it apart is the size, colour and chemical constituents of the grade, and its high oil content.
The processing and drying, and the method of identifying the best quality of Alleppey green cardamom are recognized to be of international standard.