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Arunachal Pradesh Yak Churpi: First-Ever Yak Milk Product Receives Coveted GI Tag

With the GI tag, Arunachal Pradesh Yak Churpi is expected to not only contribute to the conservation of yaks but also enhance the socio-economic well-being of the Brokpas and strengthen the cultural identity of the region.

Shivam Dwivedi
Arunachal Pradesh Yak Churpi: First-Ever Yak Milk Product Receives Coveted GI Tag (Photo Source: ICAR)
Arunachal Pradesh Yak Churpi: First-Ever Yak Milk Product Receives Coveted GI Tag (Photo Source: ICAR)

In a significant milestone for the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, the unique and culturally significant yak milk product, ‘Yak Churpi,’ has been granted the coveted Geographical Indication (GI) tag. This recognition marks a historic moment for Arunachal Pradesh and its tribal communities, who have cherished the tradition of preparing Churpi for generations.

Yak Churpi is a dairy product made from the milk of the indigenous Arunachali yak breed, known as Brokpas. These remarkable yaks are primarily found in the West Kameng and Tawang districts of the state. The announcement was made by Dr. Mihir Sarkar, Director of the ICAR-National Research Centre on Yak, highlighting the product's significance in bolstering pastoral production systems and supporting the livelihoods of yak herders.

Churpi, a naturally fermented dairy product, is celebrated for its rich protein content, making it an essential dietary staple for tribal communities inhabiting the cold and mountainous regions of Arunachal Pradesh. Often used as a vegetable substitute, Churpi is also incorporated into vegetable and meat curries and is commonly consumed with rice.

Dr. Sarkar emphasized that Churpi is deeply intertwined with the cultural and tribal heritage of Arunachal Pradesh, serving as a symbol of the state's diverse and vibrant traditions. The Brokpas, tribal yak pastoralists who rear the Arunachali yaks, undertake seasonal migrations to higher altitudes during the summer months, reaching elevations of up to 10,000 feet. During the harsh winter, they descend to mid-altitude regions. As Churpi is traditionally prepared at these high altitudes, it is believed to offer several benefits to the herders, including protection against cold weather and hypoxia, in addition to its nutritional value.

Dr. Vijay Paul, Principal Scientist at NRC-Yak, who played a pivotal role in the GI application process, highlighted the importance of Churpi's recognition in preserving the yak population and improving the socio-economic conditions of pastoralists. He also emphasized that yak populations across the country have been dwindling due to various challenges associated with yak rearing.

The application for the GI tag for Arunachal Pradesh Yak Churpi was submitted by the ICAR-National Research Centre on Yak, located in Dirang, West Kameng district. The institute has been actively collaborating with Brokpas to support them through research and extension programs.

The successful registration of Yak Churpi as a GI product was facilitated by the expertise of Padamshri Dr. Rajani Kant, National GI Technical Facilitator, Mr. Partho Saha, the former Chief General Manager of the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) in Arunachal Pradesh, and the Department of Animal Husbandry, Veterinary, and Dairy Development of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh.

This recognition is a testament to the importance of preserving indigenous traditions and products that are deeply rooted in the history and heritage of the state.

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