In a much welcomed development, the Krishi Vigyan Kendra Ernakulam (KVK), an organization which was created with the goal of realizing overall advancement in agriculture and other related areas, within the district of Ernakulam, has obtained registration for the trade mark Jaiva Pokkali for marketing Pokkali produce.
Pokkali farming is a unique paddy-shrimp integrated organic farming system carried out in Ernakulam[i] and others districts of Kerala. Rice cultivation takes place from June to October. This is followed by fish and shrimp farming which takes place from November to April. These fishes and shrimps feed on the remnants of the crop that remain behind. The rice, and its value added products, Pearl Spot, Mullet, Shrimp marketed for a premium price in a common brand would benefit farmers, thereby ensuring sustainability of this traditional and world renowned farming system of Kerala.[ii]
According to Section 2(zb) of the Trademarks Act, “trade mark” means a mark capable of being represented graphically and which is capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one person from those of others and may include shape of goods, their packaging and combination of colors. The mark has been registered under class 29, which includes fish, meat,poultry etc., and class 30, which is inclusive of rice, flour and preparations made from cereals, etc.
Pokkali rice is relatively unknown with huge marketing potential, and the efforts of KVK are aimed to tap into this undiscovered potential.Pokkali rice has also received a geographical indication registration.While currently it’s mainly consumed by locals, with the adoption of better marketing strategies, the same can be introduced in others parts of India.The need for branding is further realized by the fact that fish from Pokkali system, which has a particular taste owing to the remnants of rice harvest, the saline water and the soil, is getting mixed up in the market with low quality fish.[iii]
Moreover, this trademark registration aligns with the KVK’s agenda to facilitate an increase in the area used forPokkali farming, which over the years has seen an astonishing decline. Within a span of 25 years, Pokkali farming which occupied 25000 hectares has now depleted to a staggering 1000 hectares.[iv] This dwindle can be ascribed to high labour costs,lack of suitable machinery available for farming due to heavy clay content, heavy reliance on manual labour which is costly as well as climate dependent.[v]
The objective is to bring back this traditional organic farming system by ensuring better remunerations to Pokkali farmers. This will attract young farmers toPokkalifarming. Moreover, the sale of agricultural produce under a specific brand name will allow consumersto trust the produce, knowing that the said produce is coming from a specific source.
The mark has been registered with thevision of leasing it at free of cost to farmer groups who are desirous of selling Pokkali produce under the said mark. This will surely serve as a significant tool in promoting and marketing of these products, which will in turn help the farmers. However the said groups will have to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with KVK.
[i]Icar – KVK Ernakulam Newsletter 2015, available at: http://kvkernakulam.org.in/uploads_en/files/KVK%20Newsletter-OCTOBER-MARCH%202015%20English.pdf
[iv] The Hindu, Business Line, Now, Pokkali rice gets a trademark, V SAJEEV KUMAR, available at: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/national/krishi-vigyan-kendra-registers-trademark-for-pokkali/article7655786.ece