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  • Authored By: Dr. Mohan Dewan | Assisted By: Adv. Apurva Deshpande

A Geographical Indication (GI) tag is a sign/mark allotted to an artefact or a commodity that originates in a particular region and has its own unique identity. A GI right empowers the bearer to restrict the indication from being used by any other person whose quality does not meet the required criteria. In India, Geographical Indication tags are governed under Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.

Located in the North-east India, Meghalaya which literally means “abode of clouds” is also referred to as “Scotland of the East”. Meghalaya is known for its unique variety of flora & fauna, picturesque landscapes, wildlife sanctuaries, and many more. This article explores products that have received the prestigious GI tags, recognizing the abundant cultural heritage and artisanal skill of Meghalaya.
*We do not claim any copyright in the above image. The same has been reproduced for academic and representational purposes only.
Lakadong Turmeric, a particular variety of turmeric which is cultivated primarily in the Lakadong area of the Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya without the use of any synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, has garnered attention for its medicinal properties and distinct flavor profile, making it a prized commodity in both domestic and international markets.

Distinctive Features:
  • High Curcumin Content: Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric responsible for its potent medicinal properties. Lakadong Turmeric is renowned for its exceptionally high curcumin content, often ranging from 6% to 9%, significantly higher than other turmeric varieties.
     
  • Deep Orange Color: The rhizomes of Lakadong Turmeric are characterized by their deep orange-yellow color, indicating the presence of high concentrations of curcuminoids.
     
  • Rich Aroma: Lakadong Turmeric is known for its strong and aromatic flavor profile, which adds depth to culinary dishes and makes it highly sought after in both traditional and gourmet cooking.
The Lakadong Mission, initiated on April 24, 2018, has played a pivotal role in elevating the status of Lakadong Turmeric. By engaging 12,000 farmers across the region and facilitating the procurement and distribution of high-quality seeds, this mission has empowered local communities and bolstered agricultural practices. The GI tag not only validates the exceptional quality of Lakadong Turmeric but also provides a platform for farmers to access premium markets and secure better livelihoods.
*We do not claim any copyright in the above image. The same has been reproduced for academic and representational purposes only.
Meghalaya Larnai Pottery, also known as Meghalaya Black Pottery, is a traditional pottery craft indigenous to the Garo community in Meghalaya, India. The term "Larnai" in the Garo language refers to pottery made by women. This pottery has been an integral part of Garo culture for generations, serving both utilitarian and ceremonial purposes. Historically, it was used primarily for domestic purposes, such as storing water, cooking, and serving food. Additionally, it played a significant role in various ceremonial and ritualistic practices within the community.

The pottery is typically made using locally available clay, sourced from riverbanks or other clay-rich areas. One distinctive aspect of Meghalaya Larnai Pottery is the black color, which is achieved through a unique firing process rather than the use of glazes. This process involves burying the pottery in a pit filled with combustible materials such as leaves, husks, and straw, and then firing it. The firing process is crucial and requires skill and precision to achieve the desired black color and strength of the pottery. Traditional tools such as wooden paddles and stones are used for shaping and decorating the pottery. Designs are often etched or carved onto the surface before firing.
*We do not claim any copyright in the above image. The same has been reproduced for academic and representational purposes only.
Another notable inclusion in the recent GI registrations is Garo Dakmanda, a traditional attire synonymous with the Garo tribe. The Garo community have a long history of weaving textiles, which dates back centuries. Garo textiles were predominantly handwoven using traditional backstrap looms which are simple, portable looms that allow weavers to create intricate designs with precision. These textiles were not only used for clothing but also held symbolic and ritualistic significance in various ceremonies and festivities. Adorned with intricate designs and vibrant colors, Garo Dakmanda  is a type of an ankle-length wraparound skirt and the Rigitok is a blouse that are woven from ‘khidig,’ a type of long-staple cotton, although silk and wool may also be incorporated into certain textiles.
*We do not claim any copyright in the above image. The same has been reproduced for academic and representational purposes only.
Meghalaya Chubitchi, is a home-brewed rice beer integral to Garo culture. It exhibits a unique flavor profile and the alcohol content of Chubitchi can vary widely depending on factors such as fermentation time, yeast activity, and ingredients used. The primary ingredient used in the preparation is sticky rice (also known as glutinous rice) which is soaked in water for several hours or overnight to soften it and initiate the sprouting process. It is then steamed until fully cooked but still slightly firm. This step helps to gelatinize the starches in the rice, making them more accessible to the fermentation process. The steamed rice is thereafter cooled and transferred to a fermentation vessel, where it is allowed to ferment for several days to weeks, depending on factors such as ambient temperature, yeast activity, and desired alcohol content. Once fermentation is complete, the fermented rice mash is strained to remove solids, resulting in a clear or a slightly cloudy liquid. This liquid is then bottled and may undergo further aging to develop its flavor profile. Chubitchi is consumed during religious rituals, social gatherings, and festive occasions, from an Abet (hollow dried gourd) and holds a special place in the hearts of the Garo people.
*We do not claim any copyright in the above image. The same has been reproduced for academic and representational purposes only.
Locally referred to as "Memong Narang" or the Indian Wild Orange, this citrus variety is indigenous to Nokrek National Park and thrives in the Garo hills. It earned the prestigious GI tag in 2015. The 'Memong Narang' is considered the most "primitive" citrus and is believed to be an ancestor of modern cultivated citrus fruits. According to the GI report, it is characterized by its small size and is not suitable for consumption.

Primarily utilized as a citrus rootstock for cultivating other citrus varieties and for medicinal purposes, it is known to address ailments such as viral infections, kidney stones, and various stomach conditions. The district horticultural office in Tura has classified this species as endangered, subject to government regulations.

What's noteworthy is that the Memang Narang is exclusive to Meghalaya worldwide. Its accidental discovery contributed to the recognition of Nokrek National Park as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in May 2009. Within Nokrek National Park lies the 'National Citrus Gene Sanctuary,' safeguarding this unique citrus variety.
*We do not claim any copyright in the above image. The same has been reproduced for academic and representational purposes only.
Another GI tag from Meghalaya is the Khasi Mandarin, known as Soh Niamtra or Soh Myntra in the Khasi language. Meghalaya, Assam, and other Northeastern States cultivate Khasi mandarins extensively. In India, these oranges contribute to 43.6 percent of all citrus fruit production. They boast an intense orange hue and are filled with flavorful juice. Rich in bioactive compounds, these mandarins offer numerous health benefits and can aid in the treatment of various illnesses. The fruit is packed with essential nutrients such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, B complex vitamins, amino acids, flavonoids, and more.

Beyond their cultural value, these GI-tagged products play a crucial role in the economic landscape of Meghalaya. Reportedly, they provide livelihood opportunities to several individuals directly involved in their production and trade. These GI registrations not only validate the historical and cultural importance of these products but also signify a pivotal step towards preserving traditional knowledge, fostering sustainable livelihoods, and driving economic growth in the region.