The famous Madhubani painting of Bihar is now an exclusive brand, as it has been registered under the provisions of Global Indications (GI) Act for patenting. "The Madhubani painting of Bihar is the first item to be registered under the GI Act for patenting," Abhijit Das, representative of United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)said । For ages, rural people, mostly women, of Mithila in Bihar have developed their own tradition of art, popularly known as Madhubani paintings and named after Madhubani district. This painting tradition dates back to the seventh century A.D.Traditionally, Madhubani paintings were made on the eve of certain rituals and ceremonies such as pujas (worships), vratas (fasts) or weddings. But in the last few decades, Madhubani paintings have been popularised the world over by master painters. Das said after Madhubani paintings, the famous Shahi litchi of Muzaffarpur could become an exclusive brand of Bihar soon. "The process is underway for GI registration of Shahi litchi too," he said.Bihar is also aiming to register tassar silk and aromatic Katarni rice of Bhagalpur under the provisions of GI Act for patenting. Das was here to attend a workshop on "Geographical Indications for Regional Development: Identifying Potential GIs for Bihar".Once the Bihar government gets exclusive right to the brand name Shahi litchi, no one else will be able to use it to market the fruit in India or abroad. Buyers anywhere would know that a litchi, with this brand name, has to be one of the famous litchis of Muzaffarpur, he said.
The horticulture department officials have prepared documents under the Geographical Indications clause of International Property Rights laws to prove their case that the Shahi litchi is unique and it grows only in Muzaffarpur. They expect the 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 were being grown in only about 10 percent of the 2,000-odd orchards in Muzaffarpur. Countries that import litchis from India are the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Canada, Russia and Yemen.