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GI Tag Elevates Cashew Nuts, Propelling Goa onto the Global Culinary Stage

Goa's cashew industry celebrates the Geographical Indication tag, aiming to protect the authenticity of Goan cashews, combat misleading labelling, and revive the struggling local market against competition from cheaper imports.

Shivangi Rai
Typically, the Goan cashew is organic and better in taste and it has a unique flavour. (Photo: Canva)
Typically, the Goan cashew is organic and better in taste and it has a unique flavour. (Photo: Canva)

A major milestone was achieved in Goa's cashew industry as its cashew kernels secured the prestigious Geographical Indication (GI) tag last week.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant enthusiastically welcomed this recognition, considering it a pivotal moment for the local cashew sector and a significant stride towards realizing the "Swayampurna Goa mission." The GI tag, granted by the Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai, serves as a symbol of authenticity and uniqueness, enhancing the market presence of Goa's cashew products on a global scale.

For cashew manufacturers in Goa, the GI tag holds immense promise. It is expected to serve as a shield against deceptive practices where cashews sourced from outside the state are misleadingly labelled as "Goan cashews." With the GI tag, authentic Goan cashews will bear a distinctive logo, preventing unauthorized use and ensuring quality standards. This move aims to safeguard the reputation of Goan cashews, which have faced competition from cheaper imported varieties marketed as local products.

Rohit Zantye, president of the Goa Cashew Manufacturers’ Association (GCMA), highlighted the integral role of Goan cashews in the state's identity. He pointed out that an influx of inferior quality, cheaper cashews from other states and countries has adversely impacted local processing units. Traders, flouting quality standards, have flooded the market with mislabelled products, affecting both local producers and the image of "brand Goa."

Challenges Faced by Local Producers

Over the years, the Goan cashew market has witnessed challenges stemming from unfair competition. Smaller traders from various states have taken advantage of lax regulations, selling imported cashews as genuine Goan products. This has led to a decline in sales for traditional Goan cashew processors who struggle to compete on price due to higher minimum wages and compliance norms in Goa compared to other states. The number of processing units has dwindled from 40 in 2005 to just over 15 today.

The GI tag is seen as a crucial step in reviving the fortunes of local producers. It not only helps in preserving the legacy of Goan cashews but also opens up avenues for export. However, members of the GCMA emphasize that strict enforcement against illegal marketing practices is essential to ensure the effectiveness of the GI tag.

Historical Roots of Cashew in Goa and its Economic Significance

The introduction of cashews to Goa dates back to the 16th century when the Portuguese brought them from northeast Brazil. Initially considered a crop for afforestation and soil conservation, the economic value of cashew nuts became apparent in the mid-18th century. Goan prisoners, exiled to Portuguese territory in Africa during Goa's freedom movement, discovered the edible value of cashew nuts.

The first cashew factory in Goa commenced operations in 1926, with the first consignment of cashew kernels exported in 1930. Over the years, cashew production evolved from a cottage industry to a large-scale one, driving foreign trade, particularly with the USA. By 1961, the cashew processing industry accounted for about 60% of industrial production in Goa, showcasing its economic significance.

As the Goa government pledges to crack down on illegal marketing practices, the GI tag stands as a beacon of hope for the revival of the authentic Goan cashew industry, ensuring its continued contribution to the state's economy and preserving its rich heritage.

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