The Geographical Identification (GI) registry has accepted and published the GI application for Dalle Khursani, one of world’s hottest chillies, found in Sikkim and the adjoining regions of the eastern Himalayas. The development has brought cheer to the people of Sikkim.
The name of the GI product is Dalle Khursani and the logo bears the name of “Dalle Khursani Chilli Sikkim”. However, a section of people in the Darjeeling hills, where the chilli is also grown, feel that the logo bearing Sikkim’s name can have implications for farmers.
The application for the GI tag for Dalle Khursani was made by North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited. The Dalle Khursani chilli is known for its unique flavour and high pungency. It’s almost round, cherry-sized and bright red when the fruit is fully ripe.
“The Scoville score for this chilli is rated in the range of 100,000 to 350,000 SHU (Scovelle Heat Units). It is one of the valuable cash crops and grown all over the state since it is valued for its diverse commercial uses. It is a perennial crop characterised by small to medium sized pods,” the application published by the GI journal on August 31, 2020 read.
P. D. Rai, former MP of Sikkim and a leader of the Sikkim Democratic Front, said the chilli is an important cash crop, grown all across Sikkim, even on roof-tops. The annual production of the chilli could be 35 to 40 metric tonnes, he added. Mr. Rai said that the chilli is used in a variety of local dishes as pickle and sauce, and it also has medical properties.
Well-known social and political activist from Darjeeling, Swaraj Thapa, while congratulating the people of Sikkim on the development, has raised the issue of Darjeeling’s absence from the logo of the GI tag.
“The GI registration documents barely mention Darjeeling also as a geographical region where Dalle Khorsani is grown. The proposed logo completely omits Darjeeling. As a consequence, growers of Dalle Khorsani in the Darjeeling region are bound to be deprived of the advantage of a GI classification in the long term,” Mr. Thapa said
Chinnaraja G. Naidu, Deputy Registrar, Geographical Indications, told The Hindu that in the case of Dalle Kursani, they had accepted and published the application in the public domain, and if there were no objections in the next four months, the GI certificate will then be issued.
“When something is registered as GI, it is deemed to be the property of the Government of India. Some people say that it belongs to their State because of misconceptions. It is a community property based on traditional knowledge,” Mr. Naidu said.
He said that since the application was based on the cultivation of a plant species in a particular area, it was not a question of one State or the other. GI tags are awarded on the basis of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, passed by the Parliament in 2003, and the first product to be included in the list is, interestingly, Darjeeling Tea from West Bengal, the Deputy Registrar added.
Besides Dalle Khursani, there are other chillies found in the northeast region with very high SHUs.
For instance, the famous Bhut Jolokia, also called Ghosh chilli or Naga King chilli, grown in Nagaland, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, has an SHU range of 8,55,000 to 10,41,000.
Nagaland has a GI tag for the chilli.