GI OF BETEL LEAVES

Introduction: GI is used as an indication for products having a specific geographical origin and possesses certain features or it has a reputation due to its indigenous nature. GI tag gives an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is important attribute to its origin in that particular geographical area. GI products have the potential to boost the rural economy in remote areas of our country by supplementing the incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmen. Experts believe that the GI tag gives protection to the producers of those genuine products which command premium pricing in both domestic and international markets. Once the GI protection is granted then no other producer can claim ownership of such products. It also guarantees customers about the authenticity of that product.

Betel leaf is often referred as the Green Gold of India. In Malayalam it is called Vettila. Tirur betel

vine from Kerala is esteemed for its mild stimulant action and medicinal properties. It is mainly

cultivated in Tirur, Tanur, Tirurangadi, Kuttippuram, Malappuram and Vengara block panchayats of

Malappuram district. Puthukodi and Nadan being the most popular betel vine cultivated varieties. It

is popularly used for making pan masala for chewing and apart from that it has several medicinal,

industrial and cultural usages. It is considered as a remedy for bad breath and digestive disorders.

History: The GI tag for the betel leaf in Sholavandan, in the Vadipatti block of Madurai district, has been given to the Centre for Rural Education and Development, Madurai.

Due to the rich alluvial soil, it is thought that the Sholavandan region on the banks of the Vagai River is well known for farming betel leaves with distinctive flavours and aromas. People choose less pungent leaves for “paan” and for their greater health benefits.

An association for the welfare of betel vine growers was founded by farmers in the Sholavandhan area and has been in operation since 1964. Few farmers who had grown other commodities in the same location nonetheless set aside a small area for the growing of betel leaves, which they sent to Kallaghar shrine in accordance with their custom. Additionally, it’s thought that in the past, Europeans visited the settlement to buy betel leaves since they thought they were the greatest in the area.

There are numerous texts and inscriptions that provide historical information along with evidence of the cultivation of betel leaves. The growing of Betel vines was described in the fifth century CE in the inscriptions of the well-known temple “Jenaga Narayanasamy Perumal, Sholavandan.”

According to the inscription, the Jenaga Narayana Perumal Temple should receive donations from betel producers in the Sholavandhan area. The Pandya kingdom’s king may give the farmers three times what was expended on the temple.

An old Tamil song called Madurai Kanchi, part of the Sangam literature, recounts a Madurai market and its goods, particularly betel leaves. It claims that a group of farmers known as “Kodikkal Pillaimar” cultivate the leaves.

When Granted And Legal Provision: On 20th December, 2018 an application is made by Tirur Vettila Ulpadaka Sangam, Chembra, C/o Krishibhavan, Tirur, Tirur – Chamaravattom Road, Alingal, sub-division of district Malappuram in Kerala to Register Tirur betel leaf (Tirur Vettila) under Application No. 641 in respect of Betel Leaf (Vettila) which falls under Class 31 and is advertised as accepted under Section 13 (1) of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which states that when an application for registration of a geographical indication has been accepted, whether absolutely or subject to conditions or limitations, the Registrar shall, as soon as may be after acceptance, cause the application as accepted together with the conditions or limitations, if any, subject to which it has been accepted, to be advertised in such manner as may be prescribed.

Intention of GI: GI is a label applied to goods with a particular geographic origin and traits or a reputation that are attributable to that origin. Such a name offers a sense of assurance about quality and individuality that is mostly due to its geographic area of origin.

According to the legal requirements of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and

Protection Act), 1999, the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registrar of Geographical

Indications) (under the Union ministry of commerce and industry) grants GI tags in India.

In general, geographical indications are protected in various national and regional systems utilising

a wide range of strategies, frequently combining two or more of the strategies mentioned above.

These strategies were created in accordance with various legal traditions and under the constraints

of unique historical and economic circumstances.

How will it help?: The GI tax will benefit the state’s weavers by giving them access to a global market for their goods and by promising them a better standard of living and income.

By boosting the incomes of farmers, artisans, weavers, and craftspeople, GI products can help the rural economy in isolated places. The traditional knowledge and skills that India’s rural craftsmen have been passed down from generation to generation are unique and should be safeguarded and promoted. The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade is actively involved in the promotion and marketing of GIs and has launched a number of measures in this regard.

(a) Advantage over rivals: This means that the product, Betel leaves will stand separate

from other wraparounds that are usually sold in the market. Alongside, this shall stand

unique and the raw materials shall remain the same and no changes shall be applied, as if any new article is added in the list of raw materials, then a new product shall be prepared and not Betel leaves.

(b) Increasing the value of a product: This means that the product, Betel leaves can be

marketed and be sold anywhere, including in the e-commerce platform. Huge amount of revenue

can be generated by the people of the state of Mizoram and hence improve the GDP of the nation.

Alongside, people shall pay any amount to get the authentic taste of the product.

(c) More chances for export: This means that, the product, Betel leaves, shall have a huge

change of getting exported, as it’s available in the e-commerce platforms as well. It shall be

purchased by those people who are living in the overseas, and wish to try the wraparound product. Due to this, a huge amount of revenue is added, and the nation generates a lot of foreign currency as well.

(d) A more robust brand: This means that Betel leaves, has rich flavour and it can never

lose its authenticity. The richness of the taste shall remain firm for years to come.

(e) Can be sued: This means that, the maker can sue the person who is not an authorised user, and therefore, civil or criminal remedies can be seeded for. In case of civil remedy, injunction can be applied, or damages can be claimed, or may be the delivery of the infringing labels and the indications that are contained in that product.

(f) Quality control: A regional certification mark can be a viable choice if there is enough resources to create and operate a certifying organisation. A collective mark might be a viable choice if there is enough money to keep up a reliable, official certification mechanism and the producers can band together. Quality control requirements would be applied in this framework as conditions for continuing to use the collective mark and remain a member of the collective.

Uniqueness: Betel leaf is generally used to make pan masala apart from that it has several medicinal, industrial and cultural usages also. Due to the presence of medicinal property, it is used in Ayurvedic system of medicine. Let us look at the aspects of Tirur Betel leaf which makes it unique. Eugenol, isoeugenol and methyl isoeugenol are the chief components of betel leaf oil which imparts medicinal, aromatic and digestive properties to betel leaf. The oil contained in the leaves possess essential antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Thus, it makes betel leaf a promising ingredient for industries and is used a raw material for manufacturing digestive agents, cosmetics, skin tonics, tooth pastes, perfumes, deodorants, soaps, antiseptic creams etc.

Popular cultivated varieties are Puthukodi and Nadan. Out of the two major types, Puthukodi is

primarily cultivated as “Koottakkodi” which is a single crop especially meant for exporting to other

countries and Indian states whereas Nadan is cultivated as an intercrop in coconut and areca nut

gardens as ottakkodi which is sold in local markets.

Tirur betel leaf has more pungent odour than betel leaf produced elsewhere. The freshness of the

leaves are retained for a longer period due to thickness of leaves. Organic method of cultivation is

adopted in order to maintain the freshness and uniqueness of Tirur Vettila. The fresh leaves of Tirur

Vettila have more total chlorophyll and protein content. Nadan cultivar has chlorophyll content of

2.54 – 2.56 mg/g and Puthukodi cultivar has around 2.42-2.44 mg/g. The protein content is higher in

Nadan (3.76-3.79mg/g) and Puthukodi (3.21-3.25 mg/g) cultivars compared to Muvattupuzha

cultivar. Puthukodi has the most antioxidant capacity of 7.41-7.58µg ascorbic acid/mg followed by

Nadan which contains 7.01- 7.05µg ascorbic acid/mg. The antioxidant capacity of the betel leaves is

contributed by several molecules like vitamin B1, B2 and E, as well as several phenolic compounds.

The antioxidant capacity is an essential biochemical parameter which contributes medicinal

properties to betel leaf. Antioxidant activity involves free radical scavenging capacity, inhibition of

lipid per oxidation, metal ion chelating ability and reducing capacity. Free radicals play an important

role in most of the major healthcare issues like cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular diseases,

alzeihmer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. Antioxidants scavenge these free

radicals and proved to be advantageous for these disorders mentioned above as they prevent

damage against cell proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. The capacity of antioxidants is more in Tirur

betel leaf.

Eugenol is the major essential oil in betel leaf contribute to the more pungency of Tirur betel leaf.

Tirur betel leaf contains (15.22-16.34%) eugenol followed by methyl isoeugenol with a range of

(0.08-0.32%) and these contents contribute to adding to its pungency. The isoeugenol content in

Tirur betel leaf is around 0.78-0.82%. Eugenol contains antifungal and antioxidant properties and

eugenol in betel vine acts as an excellent antimutagen which could be used for local anaesthetic that

acts as a remedy tooth ache. Methyl isoeugenol in the betel leaf acts as a natural food flavour and is

used for treating mood disorders.

Scientific Implementation: There are several health benefits of tirur betel leaves which are as follows:-

1. ANALGESIC- It is an excellent analgesic which offers instant pain relief. It can be used to

alleviate pain caused by cuts, bruises or rashes. The juice of betel leaf provides relief from

internal pains in the body.

2. EASES CONSTIPATION- Betel leaves have a lot of antioxidants which helps to restore normal

PH levels in the body and recover from an upset stomach by improving digestion.

3. REDUCES RESPIRATORY ISSUES- Betel leaves are widely used in treating issues related to

cough and cold. It is an excellent remedy for those suffering from chest, lung congestion and

asthma.

4. ANTISEPTIC AND ANTI-FUNGAL PROPERTIES- Betel leaves have essential antiseptic

properties because they are rich in polyphenols especially chavicol which offers dual

protection from germs. It is also used to treat arthritis and orchitis. The presence of anti-

fungal properties aids in instant relief from fungal infections.

5. MAINTAIN ORAL HEALTH- Betel leaves have numerous antimicrobial agents which

effectively help to combat a host of bacteria dwelling in the mouth and solve issues related

to cavities, plaque and tooth decay. It not only improves gut wellness but also fights bad

breath, mouth odour, and act as a reliever for toothach, gum pain, swelling and other oral

infections.

6. RELIEVES JOINT PAIN- The anti-inflammatory components found in betel leaves help to

diminish discomfort and joint aches which are prominent signs of many chronic debilitating

illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis etc. It helps to lessen the intensity of pain,

inflammatory issue in that region and alleviates symptoms of arthritis.

7. MANAGES DIABETES- Several studies have been conducted which shows betel leaf powder

has the potential to cure diabetes. It has a strong antioxidant which helps to combat

oxidative stress and lower inflammation caused by uncontrolled blood glucose and supports

in curing the issue of diabetes mellitus.

8. PREVENTS CANCER- Betel leaves contain a host of phytochemicals that possess properties to

combat cancer.

9. HELPS IN FIGHTING DEPRESSION- Betel leaves is used as a natural remedy that stimulates

the functioning of central nervous system. The presence of aromatic phenolic compounds in

betel leaf stimulates the release of catecholamines which helps in enhancing the sense of

well-being and uplifts mood.

Revenue: Tirur betel leaves have a huge demand in domestic and international markets. Cultivars of Nadan type are mostly sold in local markets of Thrissur, Kozhikode many others whereas cultivars of Puthukodi type are exported to other states of India and countries. Maximum price is obtained on selling is for Puthukodi. At Tirur there’s a street called ‘Paan Bazar’ which means Vettila market and the importance of betel leaf that it plays in Tirur market.

Livlihood of people in Malappuram district is directly or indirectly, partly or fully dependant on

production, processing, handling, transportation and marketing of betel leaves. Revenue generated

by cultivating through Kootakkodi system is more compared to Ottakodi system of cultivation inspite of the fact that cost of cultivation and the output is more in Kootakkodi system. Raising betel vines in one cluster may take upto Rs. 3650/-. Betel leaf is primarily cultivated by small and marginal farmers and also by landless laborers on some leased land. The leaves are sold in domestic as well as in international markets. Income received by Tirur vettila farmers from one cluster for 2 years comes to Rs.5260 thus making a net income of Rs. 1610 from one cluster

Conclusion: A Geographical Indication (GI) is a form of Intellectual Property Rights that indicates and helps to preserve the originality of the product in that particular geographical area. GI is a tool that ensures the standard and indigenous nature of the product in that particular territory. The GI goods are registered under proper certification marks. With the emergence and growing importance of the geographical indication (GI) goods, it is assisted that the IP right holders secures a legal protection to GIs as per the laws and practices. Moreover, it also aids the clients by guiding legal strategies against uncertified and unsanctioned use of geographical indication by another person in any other way. It also regularly keeps updating the clients in case there are any changes in National or Regional Laws.

Sources:

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/madurai/gi-tag-sought-for-sholavandan-betel-leaf/articleshow/87408698.cms

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/kerala-tirur-betel-leaf-tamil-nadus-palani-panchamirtham-get-gi-tag/article29111502.ece

https://www.netmeds.com/health-library/post/amazing-benefits-of-betel-leaves-nobody-told-you

Tirur Vettila or Tirur Betel Leaf Gets Geographical Indication Tag

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