An Ode to the Sons of the Soil: Karnataka’s Indigenous GI- tagged Crops

Karnataka is known for its rich heritage, diverse wildlife, booming IT industry and pilgrim centres; but did you know that this southern marvel also has the most number of GI Tagged products in the country?

So, what is a GI tag? A geographical indication tag identifies products unique to a particular region, thereby establishing that they enjoy certain qualities intrinsic to the place of their origin and are made according to traditional methods. It’s essentially a certification that the product can’t be replicated elsewhere. With as many as 42 (and counting!) products across sectors like agriculture, handicrafts and manufacturing, Karnataka stands tall among the Indian states as an ambassador of indigenous produce and craftsmanship. Listed below are a few of the state’s GI tagged agricultural produces:

Coorg Orange

Greenish yellow in colour, this man-made hybrid variety of mandarins are sweet and sour with a tight skin, unlike Nagpur oranges which are very sweet and have loose skin. For more than 150 years, Coorg oranges have been cultivated in the districts of Kodagu, Hassan and Chikmagalur as a secondary crop in coffee plantations.

Coorg oranges have longer shelf life compared to other varieties. The hilly terrain with well-drained soil and heavy rainfall are regarded as the reasons for the unique characteristics of this variety.

Bangalore Blue Grape

A variety of fox grape (Vitis labrusca), Bangalore Blue is one of the three major varieties of grape in the state of Karnataka and has been grown for the past 150 years in the districts of Bangalore Urban, Chikkaballapur and Kolar. It is cultivated exclusively in an area of about 5,000 hectares, mainly in the Nandi Valley; and about 450,000 tonnes of the fruit are produced annually. The grape is used for raw consumption, making jams and jellies, juice and concentrates; and also in fortified wines.

Mysore Malligae

Jasmine is considered the queen of flowers and is called the “Belle of India” or the “Queen of Fragrance” because of its exquisite scent. In different parts of India, it is called by different names – Mogra, Motia, Chameli, Malli Puvvu, Jaati, Mallige, Juhi, Mogra or Moonlight of the grove.

Mysore Mallige, mostly grown in and around Mysore city, is renowned for its unique fragrance, and therefore used extensively in the essential oils industry and perfumery. Farmers reap two crops of this seasonal flower. Apart from the local market, this flower also enjoys great demand in parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well.

Coorg Green Cardamom

Known as the ‘Queen of Spices’, this exotic variety of green cardamom is one of the main crops of Coorg. The native variety is known locally as malay yalakki. Though yalakki is also grown in Chikmagalur, Hassan and Uttara Kannada districts of Karnataka, the aroma, taste and volatile oil content of the variety grown in Coorg is one of the finest found in the country.

Coorg Arabica Coffee

Coffee cultivation is an integral part of the Kodava culture and forms the backbone of the Coorg economy. Coorg Arabica Coffee has a delicate flavour and balanced aroma coupled with a sharp and sweet taste. Arabicas are harvested between November to January, and are typically grown on higher altitudes ranging from 600 to 2000 metres, in cool, moisture-rich and subtropical weather conditions. It has about half the amount of caffeine compared to Robustas. The landscape of the district provides unique aroma and flavour notes to the coffee when roasted.