Introduction: A Geographical Indication (GI) is a tag which is generally used on products having a specific geographical origin and possesses certain qualities and has reputation in that region based on its origin. Geographical Indication is granted to agricultural, natural, manufactured and handicraft products originating from a definite geographical territory or a place which becomes an unique identification for that specific product and thereby increasing its value. This tag is considered as a certification for a product which guarantees that the particular product is produced as per traditional methods.
History: According to historical records, this garlic market is more than 150 years old and was founded by a small group of farmers who grew garlic in and near the Kodaikanal Hills. As more farmers began growing this species of garlic in the high altitude, cool climate, and rich laterite soil, the demand for it gradually increased. Malai Poondu is grown as two crops, one in April-May and the other in September-October, and it sells for more than Rs 300 per kilogramme.
Locals are adamant that the three-thousand-year-old Murugan Temple in the sleepy town of Poombarai is solely responsible for the Malai Poondu’s singularity. The Murugan idol at Kuzhanthai Velappar Temple is said to have been made by Bogar, a siddhar who is known for creating the Murugan idol in Palani using a clandestine alchemy involving navapashanam (nine poisons) and 4448 medicinal herbs. The scriptures and all saints and ascetics have emphasised the significance of navapashanam as having tremendous healing powers.
As a result, it is not unexpected that Malai Poondu is regarded as the cure-all remedy in this region of the Kodaikanal Hills. The Pandyan king Kulashekhara Pandyan may have resolved a conflict in the Mannadies and referred to the regions of Munnamannoor, Kumpoor, Kawinjee, Poondi, Klavarai, Kookal, Poomburra, Putthur, and Vellaputty lands as the Vellaipoodu Kandam in an inscription on copper dating to 1342 CE (garlic continent).
Functions of GI Tag: A GI tag has other functions as well. Some of the functions are described below:-
i) Provides an indication of quality of the goods: A GI tag signifies that the specified goods have
special qualities as a result of their origin and those qualities are not be present in other goods of
similar category. It guarantees that the quality of the goods meets the expectations of the end
ii) Culture protecting function: – A GI ensures protection to local culture by preserving traditional
productions methods, habits of consumption and cultural identity.
iii) Boost the economy by increasing exports: GI goods have high demand in domestic and
international markets. Thus it aids in economic prosperity by boosting exports as there is a higher
demand for goods with GI tags because it helps consumers to know that the goods come from an
area where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the goods is essentially attributable
to their geographic origin.
Kodaikanal’s famous hill garlic (malai poondu) has earned the Geographical Indication (GI) tag and
making it an agricultural product unique in that region. This tag ensures protection and prohibition
of use of the name ‘hill garlic’ for other varieties. Kodaikanal Malai Poondu is popular for its
medicinal and preservative properties due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial potential which is due to the presence of higher amount of organosulfur compounds, phenols and flavonoids compared to other garlic varieties, as per the report published in the Government of India’s latest GI journal. It is a sought-after food ingredient due to its high content of organosulfur compounds that gives it a strong smell and pungent taste.
Kodaikanal Malai Poondu (Kodaikanal Hill Garlic) has been granted the Geographical Indication (GI)
tag by the Geographical Indications Registry. The application for GI tag was made by the Department of Biotechnology, Mother Teresa Women’s University and Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology. Kodaikanal’s famous malai poondu or hill garlic has got the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in the year 2019.
Section 2(1)(e) of the GI Act, 1999 states that a geographical indication is a sign used on products
having a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a connection between
the product and its original place of production.
Section 11(a) of the GI Act, 1999 states that an application for registration can be made in writing
with the Registrar by an association of persons or producers or any organization or authority
established by or under any law, provided the same is in the interest of the producers of the
GI tag is enrolled under Section 21 of the GI Act, 1999. On the occasion of the passing of an
approved holder, the tag cannot be exchanged, sold, or approved, as stipulated as per Section 24 of the GI Act, 1999.
This Act also states that an infringement or duplication of the merchandise is characterised as
unjustifiable. Under Section 18 of the GI Act, a GI tag is valid upto 10 years, which can be further
Kodaikanal Malai Poondu (Kodaikanal Hill Garlic) is unique from other varieties cultivated in other
parts of India. In India, mostly garlic is planted as kharif crop during the month of June‐July and as
rabi crop during the month of October‐November and it depends upon the regions. Although they
are both planted as crops, the yield and quality are good in only one crop whereas Kodaikanal Malai Poodu is cultivated as two crops which are way different from others. i.e., one crop planted during September‐October and the other one during April‐May.
Most of the garlic varieties cannot tolerate extreme cold or hot climatic conditions but the climatic
conditions where Kodaikanal Malai Poondu grows in generally cool and the temperature lies
between 11 to 20 degree Celsius . The soil where this garlic grows has peculiar characteristics along
with abundant medicinal properties. Kodaikanal Hill garlic (Kodaikanal Malai Poondu) is famous for
its medicinal and preservative properties due to its antioxidant and antimicrobial potential, which is
attributed to the presence of higher amounts of organosulfur compounds, phenols and flavonoids.
The high content of organosulfur compounds provides an extraordinary strong smell and pungent
taste that is a notable sensory property of Kodaikanal garlic as a food ingredient. The speciality of
Kodaikanal hill garlic lies in its extended storage life period of 8 to 11 months at room temperature
without the cloves being shrivelled and sprouted due to continuous smoking under traditionally
designed roof structure which provides proper humidity and air circulation. This variety of garlic can endure extreme hot or cold conditions. Kodaikanal Malai Poondu has the reputation for having
enhanced medicinal properties of about ten folds compared to other garlic varieties.
Uses: The cultivators of Kodaikanal Malai Poondu (Kodaikanal Hill Garlic) conventionally use this garlic variety to regularly maintain their general health and as medicine to cure common ailments like gastric troubles, head ache, ear pain, etc. This garlic variety has a very special property and is proved to be very effective for post delivery healings. Villagers of Kodaikanal totally depend on garlic to treat almost all common ailments like headache, asthma, tiredness, body pain, indigestion and other gastrointestinal problems, etc. For each treatment, the Kodaikanal hill garlic is processed in various manners to cure different ailments. Traditionally they are prepared with a paste having equal proportions of palm jaggery and garlic alongside few other ingredients for delivered women to heal their womb and give overall strength. Local traditional medical practitioners use this garlic in various proportions and forms in their medicine.
This variety of garlic has several health benefits which are as follows:-
“Poondu Rasam” for General health and Body pain – Poondu rasam is a kind of soup made
traditionally in the villages of Kodaikanal region using garlic which is used for relieving body
pains, curing digestive problems and improves general body health.
Garlic for head ache – Kodaikanal garlic proves to be very beneficial for mild and severe head
“Poondu Laegiyum” for post delivery healing, boost appetite and reduce weight – Poondu
Laegiyum is a medicinal paste made using this garlic. It is traditionally given to mothers post
delivery to heal injuries. It is also given to boost appetite and reduce weight too.
Garlic for Gastric problems- Kodaikanal garlic has proved to be very effective to treat most of
gastric issues plus it is also used to cure constipation and deworming.
Garlic for pulmonary complaints- Kodaikanal garlic has proved to be very effective for
GI tags offer a wide variety of benefits which helps us to understand its potential:-
- Enhances economic growth: Ensuring protection of goods through geographical
indication tag leads to the overall economic growth. Moreover, the marketing and
promotion of the products associated with GI tags enhances the secondary sector of the
economy in that particular region, which in turn boosts the regional economic development.
- Increase of income for local producers: Ensuring legal protection of GI tagged goods
increases the good reputation about the product among the consumers. Thus, the
geographical indication tag on goods helps to increase the income for local producers and
increase the employment prospects. The protection of goods through geographical
indication tag creates a positive image and reputation of the product in the minds of the
consumers and rewards the producers with better incentives and higher returns on
- Increase in exports: Registering a geographical indication tag ensures to seek protection
for specific products produced in a particular geographical region, which eventually
encourages and motivates the marketers to expand their business at a global level.
Moreover, the protection of geographical indications boosts exports too.
- Increase in tourism: Giving protection to products through GI tags helps to build a global
reputation. People around the world recognize various GI products from different regions
and it motivates them to visit those regions and use those products. Thereby helping the
growth of the tourism industry of that particular region as well.
The GI tag is an intangible certification which establishes credibility and has a long-term effect on
how buyers will evaluate quality and authenticity of items with reference to the nation, locale, or
place of origin. It has several benefits like providing security through legal means, the limitation of
criminal item utilisation, the arrangement of high-quality, standardised items, the ensuring financial
wellbeing and boosting exports in domestic and international markets. Furthermore, GI tags are
issued after thoroughly evaluating chronicled and experimental actualities. In case a debate arises
over the root of origin, the Geographical Indication Registry may assign ownership to one or more
states. GI approval ensures that all accessible assets are utilised under GI merchandise utilisation,
deal, and conveyance. A GI Tag permits upgraded competitiveness, proficiency, and national glory in global stage.
GI Tags are crucial in preserving creativity and to prevent misappropriation, which happens when
unapproved dealers, merchants, or makers make a copy and illicit deals that degrades the quality
and goodwill of the product or claim rightful ownership over that product. An agro-product entitled for a GI tag must historically originate in a particular geographical region. The consumer who purchases the GI tagged agro-product should be able to associate it with the place of origin and to clearly differentiate it from other food stuffs of similar nature.
Sources: Following are the sources:
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