In World Trade Organization's (WTO) TRIPS agreement of 1995Geographical Indications (GI) gained worldwide ranking with their authorizedsafeguarding as Intellectual Property Right (IPR) (Benavente, 2013). Article 22(1) of this agreement defines GI as "indications which identify a good asoriginating in the territory of a member, or a region or locality in thatterritory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of thegood is essentially attributable to its geographic origin". A GeographicalIndication is more or less a mark or sign used on goods having a specificgeographical origin and holding characteristics or attributes that are due tothat origin. It recognizes a product as patented or originated from a givenplace. It aids in the identification of goods in the market and marketing ofgoods too for it can act as an effective marketing tool if safeguarded andhandled properly (Addor and Grazioli, 2002). It aspires for protecting goodsfrom adulteration, brand falsification, and inauthenticity. Since the consumeris the king of the market, it aims to meet his demands by providing him propermarket information pertaining to a specific source and quality of the good(Soeiro, 2005). Furthermore, GI's have cultural importance too for the reasonthat they save our traditions and culture alongside confirming that onlyproducers within a specific geographical location reap the benefits of themarketable utilization or exploitation of their culture and traditional resources.
Geographical Indications Registry gave GeographicalIndication to Kashmir saffron on 3rd May 2020 which is mainly grown in districtPulwama, Budgam, Srinagar, and Kishtwar. Tehsil Pampore of Pulwama districtalone accounts for 80 percent of the saffron. The application for GeographicalIndication to Kashmir saffron was filed by the Directorate of Agriculture,Government of Jammu and Kashmir, and facilitated by the SKUAST-Kashmir, andSaffron research station (Spice park), Dussu (Pampore). It was due to the factthat Kashmir saffron is near to best in terms of quality and most valued(costly) cash crop together with the only saffron in the world grown at analtitude of 1,600 meters that made Deputy Registrar of Geographical IndicationsChinnaraja Naidu claims that with Geographical Indications in Kashmir saffronwould regain its glory and prominence in the export market. Saffron occupiesthe most important position in foreign exchange receivers among the cash cropsand spices of India.
But, it is very unfortunate that farm gate prices and marketprices of saffron have huge differences (Kubrevi & Khare, 2006) therebymeaning that a grower enjoys very little share in consumer's rupee. At present,saffron growers find it very difficult to market their products because of somany factors such as large pool of intermediaries (Ganaie & Nusrath, 2016),small and fragmented land holdings (Munshi,2002), poor or inadequate brandmethod (GIAHS Report, 2012), and the traditional method of cultivation (Qadri,2019). Hence, Geographical Indication in saffron is a welcome step that must bepromoted at every platform. It will help the farmers to get best price fortheir produce. It plays a pivotal role in brand development forquality-bound-to-origin products (WIPO, n.d.). Similarly, it can act as anexceptional branding tool for Kashmir saffron.
As we know adulteration is the most important problem inSaffron industry in Jammu and Kashmir (Qadri, 2020) Geographical Indicationwill definitely help in curtailing this unapologetic and insensitive practice.Saffron has plentiful attributes such as anti-cancer and wound healingqualities. In addition, it has anti-oxidant anti-diabetic features. Besides, ithelps in reminiscence or recollection and also improves knowledge. All thesecharacteristics of saffron point out towards its huge prospects and widemarket. So, GI has a role to play because it will give a big push to Kashmirsaffron, protecting its uniqueness, and its market coupled with security andacknowledgment worldwide.
Binish Qadri is ICSSR Doctoral Fellow pursuing Ph.D. in Economics at the Department of Economics, Central University of Kashmir.