Friday, June 22, 2007

Shahi litchi may be exclusive brand of Bihar

The famous shahi litchi of Muzaffarpur could become an exclusive brand of Bihar soon. The state is moving to claim the brand name under intellectual property rights (IPR) laws.

Once the Bihar government gets exclusive rights to the brand name, no one else will be able to use it to market shahi litchis in India or abroad. Buyers anywhere will know that a litchi with this brand name has to be one of the famous litchis of Muzaffarpur.

Officials in the horticulture department are preparing documents under the Geographical Indications clause of IPR laws to prove their case that the shahi litchi is unique and that it grows only in Muzaffarpur.

They expect that registration of the brand name will benefit farmers, who will gain access to more markets and get better prices.

About 70 percent of all litchis produced in India are grown in Bihar. The number of farmers in the state growing litchis has increased in the last decade, especially in Muzaffarpur district.

But in a recent report, the World Bank noted that litchis good enough for export were being grown in only about 10 percent of the 2,000-odd orchards in Muzaffarpur. Countries that import litchis from India include the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Canada, Russia and Yemen.

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