Reaching out to the underprivileged..

As a school-going kid (India), back in 90's, many of us were asked to do small chores like buying groceries or vegetables. Back then there was next-to-nil concept of home delivery. Along with the list (of purchase), there were certain "instructions" given my mother. Those "instructions" were to ensure that kid (read, folks with no subject matter expertise) are able to get best produce and not fooled with sub-grade items!

Many a times, indications were given from where I should buy a particular stuff. eg: Milk was best from a certain dairy, food-grains from certain Kirana (Deli) store. Care was also taken to ensure, kids don't wander around and do least 'hops' (no pun intended) between shop and home. And yes, moms are smarter; just by the small paper scribbled by shop-keeper or time taken, she could trace that there was no mischief! Add to it the aunties from our locality (pseudo intelligence agency) who would magically turn-up on your door, asking what was I doing at the ice-popsicle cart (Gola-wala as per local lingo).

But one thing was clear while doing chores for mom, with her indications of quality shops and her intelligence to trace my route, only best quality produce reached home. Little did I know, those memories will form the intro to a blog on important topics of #FoodTraceablity and #GeograpgicalIndication for Indian #premium #Alphonso #Mangoes.

This blog, I wont get into nitty-gritties of the 2 topics, there is plethora of artifacts available online. I would rather engage with focus on #Alphonso mango coming from part of Konkan, west coastal region of India. An undocumented saying, Mango is king of fruits and Alphonso mango is best of them all (read premium price as well). Hence how #FoodTraceablity and #GeograpgicalIndication will provide best value to customer and importantly give better returns to farmer?

So lets begin with Why! Why it is more important than before to explore on #FoodTraceablity and #GeograpgicalIndication for #Alphonso mangoes? What has changed due to which more focus is required? Answer is 2 fold; firstly customer seldom get good quality of mangoes due to corrupt practices of mixing mangoes of different grades. Secondly last year (2020) the provisions of #GeograpgicalIndication for Alphonso mango changed.

Double-tapping on later part, earlier Alphonso mango had 2 GIs. One was GI # 379 for Devgad Alphonso Mango and second was GI # 497 for Ratnagiri Alphonso Mango. For people not familiar with Konkan, Devgad and Rathnagiri are 2 of 7 districts in Maharashtra state. Growing up as a kid my understanding was, Alphonso originated from Devgad, Ratnagiri and part of Raigad (another Konkan district north of Ratnagiri). Last year, the 2 GIs were merged into one GI # 139 and named just Alphonso! Due to COVID19 lockdown, the news coverage was limited. Also, I am personally not aware of reasons behind it. But one thing stuck very evidently to me. The regions covered under the new GI #139 are not just limited to Devgad and Ratnagiri; remaining districts of Konkan Maharashtra are also added. This effectively gives mangoes grown in Thane or Mumbai 'CITY' a GI tag!! I wont comment more, as this matter is sub judice. As a consumer who gets his/her hand on GI tagged mangoes, he/she will not know for sure if this is GI-tagged Alphonso is from Devgad/Ratnagiri (generally considered true source of Alphonso).

Another malpractice, is mixing mangoes of different grades and collectively selling them as Alphonso Mangoes. For few years, the markets are flooded with Mangoes from different regions of India under the pretext of Alphonso!! Again the consumer is not having any means to know the purity.

The farmers who toil the entire year are deprived of premium rate as trader can buy only limited quantity and mix with other grades for volume sale. One will be surprised to know that simple corrugated box (used for mango packing) making charges has increased 30% in 2021 compared to 2020! The opening season price or Muhurat trading price of premium Alphonso mangoes went down like crazy. How on earth, the best price can be given to farmers?

Enter #FoodTraceability, a technology leverage, which can help the consumer and farmer likewise. If one is able to track the #Alphonso #Mango to its source, much of malpractices or confusion of GI can be addressed to great extent. One may say, it is not foolproof; I say or rather I firmly believe, it is much needed start. It is Hope. Hope of better food to my loved ones and hope for better rates to the farmers.

FoodTraceability will also help unearth that false claims of bad quality of produce. A very typical case in export scenario, where the importer randomly reduces the price saying the produce is sub-grade. A genuine exporter can trace the farm and verify if the other consignments from same farm are having complaints. (Touchwood) Supply-chain infrastructure is at rise and efforts from APEDA (Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority of India) has also helped to steam-line export process and pre-export processing. So only thing guaranteed is genuine business and good returns to Farmers / Traders / Exporters.

So now when my daughter gets her grocery chores from her mother, she has to go for shop/Supermarket /app/website which sells produce with #GeograpgicalIndication and #FoodTraceablity. Someone like #ShreevaliAgro, who leverages #GoldChain technology to guarantee purity and Value for Money!

So coming back to the question, are Food Traceability and Geographical Indication: two sides of same coin? I will say Yes, both are sides of same coin. And this coin is currency of Trust and Purity.

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