GI Products of Bangladesh: Overview
The country, Bangladesh is a natural land of its own history, tradition and culture. Various traditional products and cultural elements are scattered all over this country. Many of these traditions today are endangered or on the verge of extinction or have somehow survived through neglect.
Although this country is very rich in terms of history and tradition, since there was no GI law for a long time, there was no opportunity to protect the ownership of geographical indication products in this country.
History of starting GI registration in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, the Geographical Indication Products (Registration and Protection) Act 2013 and the Geographical Indication Products (Registration and Protection) Rules 2015 were enacted under the guidance of the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. After this, the country’s way of registration of geographical indication (GI) products becomes smooth.
Geographical indication products are one of the branches of intellectual property. If a country’s soil, water, weather, climate, production methods and the culture of the people of the respective country produce or play an important role in producing a product with unique qualities, then it is recognized as a GI product of that country.
This recognition and certification is granted by the Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) under the Ministry of Industry of Bangladesh in accordance with the rules of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
DPDT called for registration of GI products under the Geographical Indication Products (Registration and Protection) Act, 2013 and the provisions of the Act in 2015. First, DPDT publish the details of the product on a journal and their website before certify a product or seeks any complain.
List of GI products of Bangladesh
There are ten accredited GI products of Bangladesh and another one is on the way.
Jamdani was first recognized as a GI product in Bangladesh on 17 November 2016, second Hilsa achieved his approval on 6 August 2017, third Khirsapati mango on 27 January 2019, fourth Dhakai Muslin on 28 December 2020, on 26 April 2021 Rajshahi silk, Shataranji from Rangpur, Kataribhog rice of Dinajpur and Saadamati or white clay of Netrakona total 5 products are recognized, ninth Kalijira rice on 26 April 2021.
The newly registered GI product is bagda shrimp or Tiger prawn, which became the 10th product of Bangladesh to get GI certificate on April 24, 2022.
Apart from this, Fazli Mango of Rajshahi have been registered as GI products but have not got GI certificate till now.
1. Jamdani saree
Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation- (BSCIC) sought approval to register Jamdani as a GI product on 1 September 2015 and it was recognized as the country’s first GI product on 17 November 2016.
However, earlier in 2013, UNESCO declared traditional Jamdani and its weaving industry as ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Bangladesh’.
In ancient times in Bengal, the fine cloth called muslin was made from carpus cotton in the loom weaving process and geometric or boutique design on muslin is called Jamdani.
Jamdani is of two types: one made of silk yarn and another made of cotton yarn.
Jamdani generally refers to sarees, but veils, kurtas, punjabi, turbans, ghagras, handkerchiefs, curtains are also made from jamdani.
The main features of the Jamdani saree are that it is completely hand woven. The climate of the area around Shitalakshya river is suitable for weaving this Jamdani saree. The yarn is dyed by mixing dye with Shitalakshya river water to increase the color fastness and the design of the saree is hand woven so that the design is equally noticeable from both sides.
As such, most jamdani are made in Narayanganj and Sonargaon of Dhaka.
There are different designs of Jamdani such as Tercha, Butidar, Jhalor, Pannahazar, Phulwar, Tordar etc.
Standard size of Jamdani saree is 18 feet length and 4 feet width.
Usually the price of jamdani can be from four thousand taka to several lakh taka depending on the thread count and design.
A Jamdani saree can take two days to 4 months or more to wave, depending on the design.
The earliest mention of Jamdani in Bengal from around 300 AD in Kautilya’s Arthashastra, in the book Periplus of the Erythrean Sea and various Arab, Chinese and Italian traders.
Starting from Ibn Battuta, tourists from Britain and other countries praised this Jamdani while visiting Bangladesh.
In the 1700s, jamdani-patterned sherwanis and turbans were in fashion, and the Nawabs of Delhi, Lucknow, Nepal and Murshidabad wore jamdani.
During the Industrial Revolution in England, the weaving industry, like other cottage industries, shrank due to the introduction of machines to make cheap printed sarees.
To sustain this Jamdani, currently there is Jamdani Palli in Mirpur, Dhaka. Besides, Jamdani Nagar was built on 20 acres of land under the supervision of Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation in 1993 in Noapara village of Tarabo Municipality of Rupganj Upazila, Narayanganj.
2. Hilsa or Ilish Fish:
Department of Fisheries of Bangladesh applied for registration for GI recognition of ilish fish on 14 November 2016 and on 6 August 2017 it was recognized globally as Bangladesh’s own product.
There are total three types of hilsa available in Bangladesh namely: 1. Tenualosa ilisha (hilsa) 2. Tenualosa toli (Chandana hilsa) 3. Hilisa Kelee/kanagurta (Gurta/ Kanagurta hilsa).
Ilish is a torpedo-shaped silver colored fish with a slightly darker color on the back. Ilish refers to fish of the former genus Hilsa. This fish belongs to the genus Tenualosa ilisha of the subfamily Alosinae of the Clupeidae family and of the Clupeiformes class.
In jatka condition when it is immature there are lined spots on the body. Hilsa takes eight months to a year to mature after hatching.
A mature ilish can be up to 63 centimeters or more than two feet long and weigh up to three/three and a half kilograms.
The major rivers of Padma and Meghna basins of Bangladesh and adjacent coastal and marine waters are geographical areas of ilish production and it is a important factor on blue economy. Hilsa fish were once found in abundance in almost all major rivers and tributaries of rivers in the country.
At present, hilsa is found in about 100 rivers of the country and the main extraction areas are the lower Meghna river, Tetulia, Kalabadar or Ariyal Khan, Dharmaganj, Nayabhangani along with Bishkhali, Payra, Rupsa, Shibsa, Pasur, Kacha, Lata, Lohadia, Andharmanik rivers etc. and Many other rivers and estuaries and the coastal areas of the Bay of Bengal.
Ilish is caught almost all year round in all these areas. The availability of ilish in the Padma River has now increased as a result of implementing various strategies aimed at conserving ilish, including the establishment of ilish sanctuaries in the lower Padma.
Usually in September-October, Hilsa flocks from the sea and enters the river during the new moon and full moon tides to lay their eggs.
Dhalchar, Manpura Dwip, Moulvir Char, Kali Char of the Meghna river are seven thousand square kilometers area which is the main breeding area of hilsa.
75% of the world’s ilish is produced in Bangladesh.
According to the 2017-18 fiscal year, 5 lakh 70 thousand metric tons of hilsa are produced in the country, the market value of which is about 22.5 thousand crore taka.
1.15% of Bangladesh’s GDP comes from hilsa and Bangladesh earns about 400 crore foreign exchange by exporting ilish.
This fish is excellent in taste, aroma and contains high levels of nutrients, fats and minerals. Also contains Omega Three Fatty Acids, Amino Acids, Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Vitamin-A, D, B.
4,50,000 fishermen in 1500 unions of about 145 upazilas of 40 districts of Bangladesh catch ilish fish. An average of 32% of the fishermen are full-time and 68% part-time fishers. In addition to catching hilsa, about 20-25 lakh people are directly or indirectly dependent on this fish for their livelihood in marketing, transportation, processing, export, net-boat making etc.
3. Khirsapat Mango of Chapainawabganj:
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute applied for registration for GI recognition of this product on 2 February 2017 and it was approved on 27 January 2019.
The key features of this egg-shaped medium-sized mango are its fibreless kernel, juicy, very attractive aroma and very sweet taste (average sweetness 23%).
The skin of the fruit is slightly thick and hard but the seed is thin (8 cm in length, 4 cm in width and 2 cm in thickness), due to which an average of 67.2 parts of the mango is edible.
Among all the varieties of mangoes in Bangladesh, Khirsapati mango is said to be the most advanced variety. It is also called Himsagar.
This fruit is produced commercially in mid-season.
Generally, mangoes start ripening from the third week of Jaishtha month (from the beginning of June).
It takes about four months from flowering to fruit maturity.
Commercial cultivation of this mango is carried out in five upazilas of Chapainawabganj, but Shibganj, Bholarhat and Gomstapur upazilas have the most khirsapat mango cultivation.
According to history, two hundred years ago, Shibganj Upazila had a mango orchard on 200 bigha and another 150 year old orchard on 35 bigha land. It is known that khirsapat mango was cultivated in both gardens.
4. Dhakai Muslin:
Bangladesh Handloom Board (BHB) Dhaka applied to DPDT to register muslin as a GI product on 2nd January 2018 and it received GI certificate on 17 June 2021.
BHB has requested that, apart from them, no other person or organization is producing real muslin cloth, so from now on, if anyone wants to produce muslin in Dhaka, they will have to take registration from DPDT on the recommendation of Bangladesh Handloom Board.
This 100% cotton fabric is hand spun, making it uneven, very smooth, thin, transparent, light in weight and very comfortable to wear.
Dhakai muslin is made from phuti carpus cotton which was grown in some places around Dhaka district on the west bank of Meghna river including Sonargaon, Titabadi, Dhamrai, Kapasia, Jangalbari in Kishoreganj and Bajitpur.
The nomenclature of the thousand-year-old muslin comes from the dictionary “Hobson Johnson” published by SC Burnell and Henry Yule. Here it is said that the word muslin is derived from Mosul, the ancient trading center of Iraq.
Dhakai muslin weaving has three stages, namely: production and collection of corpus, spinning and weaving of cloth.
It was once said that the weave of the muslin sari was so fine and the weavers so skilled that an entire sari could be passed through the rings.
Although the production of this cloth flourished during the Mughal period in the 17th century, it has also been described as a witness to the history and tradition of Bangladesh for its thousand years of history.
A famous book on the history of muslin is James Taylor’s “A Sketch of the topography and statistics of Dacca.” James Taylor saw a one-pound string that was 250 miles long.
But during the British rule, the muslin artisans were forced to turn away from muslin making. Now a new initiative has been taken to remake muslin.
A group of researchers from Bangladesh has achieved success in the last six years of research.
Written in 1965 by the former professor of Dhaka University. Abdul Karim described 18 types of muslin in his book ‘Dhakai Muslin’, including Malmal Khas, Rang, Ab-i-Rawan, Alibali, Tarandam, Badan Khas, Jhuna, Khassa, Shabnam etc.
This difference mainly depends on the fineness of yarn, knitting style and design. Apart from muslin sarees, veils, scarves, gowns, turbans etc. are made. ‘
5. Rajshahi Silk:
Bangladesh sericulture Development Board of Rajshahi District applied for registration of ‘Rajshahi Silk’ product as GI on 24 September 2017, which was approved on 17 June 2021.
A brand name of silk fabric is “Rajshahi silk” which is mulberry silk made from animal fibers and protein fibers. As Rajshahi silk has 11% water content, it is comfortable to wear in all seasons, winter and summer.
After 20-22 days of silkworm feeding on the leaves of mulberry or mulberry tree, silk balls are made from the saliva secreted from the mouth of the silkworm.
In various processes, yarn or raw silk is extracted from this silk cocoon through reeling machine.
The raw silk is processed in various ways and woven on the loom machine to make Rajshahi silk fabric.
After weaving this fabric, which looks quite bright and shiny as well as soft and comfortable, it is dyed and printed with different colors; But many times the yarn is dyed before weaving.
According to the book, ‘Heritage of Bangladesh Rajshahi Silk’ by Abdur Rashid Khan, the production of silkworms and its cloth has been used in Rajshahi since 1759 or earlier.
This silk was cultivated the most in Boalia port of Rajshahi. In the eighteenth century, Rajshahi silk was exported to different parts of the world including Europe. Now new export possibilities have been created again.
6. Shataranji of Rangpur:
Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) made this application to DPDT on July 11, 2019, which was accepted on June 17, 2021.
Shataranji is a traditional handicraft of Rangpur region of Bangladesh. Shataranji industry has developed in Nisbetganj village on the bank of Ghaght river in Rangpur, which named after British citizen Mr. Nisbet. He was the then Collector of Rangpur district around 1830.
Before that, Nisbetganj was called Pirpur and in this village at that time the weavers used to make carpets or thick cloths of colorful yarn which is now called Shataranji.
Mr. Nisbet was impressed by these centenarians and promote the industry by marketing.
For this contribution Pirpur was named Nisbetganj after Mr. Nisbet.
Even in the 13th century Shataranji was in vogue in this area and it is known from history that Shataranji was used in the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
At that time, Shataranji was considered a symbol of aristocracy in the houses of kings and rich people.
During the British rule, Shataranji became so popular that Shataranji made here to export to various countries including India, Burma, Sinhalese, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.
It is basically a type of carpet which Produced without machines. these products are hand-crafted by drawing threads on the ground with bamboo and rope.
There are basically three types of Shataranji namely: cotton thread, velvet thread and jute thread.
Its key features are: hand woven; Yarn is dyed by mixing with Ghaght river water to bring color permanence; The climate of this Ghaghat river area is suitable for weaving shataranji and the design is the same on both sides
In 1976, the Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) officially took up a project to make Shataranji in Nisbetganj village, but the project stalled due to lack of market creation.
Later, in 1994, a non-governmental development organization encouraged the people of the area to produce Shataranji by providing advanced training, since then Rangpur’s Shataranji is being exported to about 36 countries in Europe, North America and Asia.
In the beginning, only carpet products were produced, but now the entrepreneurs are making floor mats, wall mats, wallets, papash, school bags, mobile bags etc.
According to a statistic, 60 percent of the handicrafts in the export trade in Bangladesh are exported from Rangpur’s Shataranji, from which it has been possible to bring about 4 million dollars to the country every year.
7. Bangladesh Kalijira rice:
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute applied for registration of Kalijira rice as GI product, which has been approved for GI registration by DPDT on 17 June 2021.
Rice is the most cultivated food products across the country.
Usually the husk of Kalijira rice is black. But after peeling, white rice comes out.
The main characteristic of this variety of rice is that it is very small and fragrant.
It looks like Kalijira spice due to its small grain size and black skin, hence the name.
Rice, polao, pies or phirni are mainly made with this rice.
The origin of this rice is in the Mymensingh region of Bangladesh on the banks of the Brahmaputra river.
However, this rice has spread all over Bangladesh for its incomparable taste, smell and quality.
Kalijira seedlings are usually planted during Shravan to Bhadra months ( August to mid-September).
Harvesting is done at the end of Agrahayan (between 10th and 15th December); Ropa Aman season is the time of Kalijira paddy production.
8. Dinajpur Katari Bhog Rice:
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute applied for registration of this product as GI on 6th February 2017 and received approval on 17th June 2021.
The characteristic of this rice is that the rice produced from it is narrow, fragrant and curved like a knife.
Although it is produced all over Bangladesh, it is most cultivated in Dinajpur , Mymensingh, Tangail, Magura and Sylhet districts.
However, the origin of this rice is Dinajpur. If it is cultivated in areas other than Dinajpur, its fragrance is reduced.
According to the study, Kataribhog rice is cultivated the most in Chiribandar Upazila of Dinajpur district.
Due to the favorable environment for cultivation, Kataribhoga has been cultivated in Dinajpur since ancient times.
Kataribhoga paddy is also a seasonal crop of Ropa Aman.
As such, seedlings should be planted during Shravan to Bhadra months (from August to mid-September).
The crop is harvested at the end of the growing season (between 10th and 15th December).
Apart from polao, delicious biryani, jorda, payesh and phirni are cooked with Kataribhog rice.
9. Sadamati of Bijoypur:
Registration application for GI recognition of this natural resource of Netrokona was made on 6th February 2017 by Netrokona district administration office and it was approved on 17th June 2021.
In 1957, the first clay soil was found at a place called Vedikura in the then Durgapur Thana of Mymensingh district by Directorate of Geological Survey of Bangladesh
Durgapur is currently an upazila of Netrakona, on the bank of the river Sameswari of this upazila, the hill of china clay situated there.
This excellent quality clay is used in various fields including ceramic tiles, tiles, glass.
Chemical analysis results of white clay from Bijoypur are: silicon oxide 50% to 68%, aluminum oxide 20% to 33%, iron oxide 0.4% to 2.8%, titanium oxide 0.4% to 2% and calcium oxide from trace to 0.8%.
Soil characteristics and values vary from place to place.
These black, gray and red soils are moderately hard and brittle when dry but very smooth, soft and sticky when wet.
In 1964-65 GSB dug 13 wells in Bijoypur to find out the quantity of white clay. Soil extraction started from 1968 but now soil extraction is being done from 9 wells. There are still 163 clay mounds.
So far 5 lakh metric tons of soil has been excavated and stockpiles are 13.77 lakh metric tons.
10. Bagda shrimp or Black tiger shrimp:
The Department of Fisheries, Bangladesh applied for GI for Bagda shrimp on 4 July 2019 and was recognized as the country’s 10th GI product on 24 April 2022. Shrimp is also called White Gold in Bangladesh for earning huge foreign exchange.
The scientific name of the shrimp is Penaeus monodon (Pronodon). According to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, in terms of fisheries and farm management, shrimps produced in salt water are called Shrimp, and shrimps produced in freshwater are called Prawn. Bagda salt water shrimp.
It is commonly known in English and in the export market as Black Tiger Shrimp. Bagda shrimp is an endemic fish species native to the coastal and marine areas of southern and southwestern Bangladesh. There are 27 species of marine shrimp in the genus Penaeus; In terms of commercial importance, black tiger shrimp and Venami (Pacific white shrimp) are among them.
The commercial importance of Bagda shrimp is immense in the market of international marine fish and fish products (Sea food). Bangladesh is one of the top ten producers of this species of shrimp in the world. Black tiger shrimp are commercially cultivated in coastal and marine waters of this country. Which fulfills the demand of the local market and plays an important role in earning foreign exchange through export to the international market.
Long before the current system of shrimp farming started in Bangladesh, shrimp rearing was practiced in coastal areas in traditional ways. In the year 1950, more than a hundred such large reservoirs used to raise shrimp in this country.
In these coastal reservoirs (enclosures), the shrimps, especially the black tiger shrimps and other finned fishes, which floated with the salt water on the tide, were trapped in a large enclosure of salt water and kept there for 4 to 6 months to grow.
Production in the system was quite low as no water management, feed, fertilizer or other inputs were provided. The shrimps produced in these enclosures were mainly used to meet local needs. Since then, there have been several changes in shrimp production techniques, such as horizontal expansion of farm area and building with nature, in addition to producing shrimp in hatcheries instead of using tidewater PL traps.
The 1980s saw major changes in shrimp farming as a result of increased global demand for high-quality seafood, economic liberalization and diversification efforts by governments and international organizations, and the expansion of shrimp farming through the Department of Fisheries’ farmer training and technology demonstration programs.
In 1979-80, the Department of Fisheries started providing formal support for the expansion of shrimp farming through the Fisheries Development Scheme (ADB).
In the beginning of the eighties, shrimp farming was started in peldar in Khulna region and with salt in Cox’s Bazar region as part of the semi-submerged water fish farm establishment project. During 1981-86 AD, a shrimp farming demonstration farm was implemented in Satkhira district under the initiative of the Department of Fisheries with the assistance of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
In the mid-eighties, the Department of Fisheries achieved success in hatchery shrimp farming projects and provided support for the establishment of shrimp hatcheries at the private level. PL production in hatcheries opens a new horizon in shrimp farming.
Currently, Black Tiger Shrimp production in Bangladesh has become a fully commercial and export-oriented activity; The shrimp farming area has also expanded enormously.
In the past 1983-84, 52,000 hectares of land used to cultivate bagda shrimp; In 1995-96 this area increased to 1 lakh 40 thousand hectares and in 2015-16 it increased to about 2 lakh 7 thousand hectares.
The impact of this horizontal expansion of shrimp farming area is observed in the total shrimp production volume in Bangladesh over the same period. Black tiger shrimp production in the country was 2,220 MT in 1983, which increased to 57,000 MT in 1995-96 and 68,306 MT in 2016-17.
This achievement has been made possible as a result of development of shrimp farming technology, technology demonstration, provision of technical advice and expansion of participatory farming under the initiative of the Department of Fisheries.
In contrast, artisanal and commercial trawling accounts for only 4-5 percent of the total black tiger shrimp produced in the country. From this we get a picture of the heavy dependence of the coastal communities of the country on black tiger shrimp farming.
Advantage of GI products
When a product gets GI recognition, it becomes easier to brand the product globally.
These products have different prices.
That region gets the right and legal protection to produce the product commercially.
Bangladesh is home to a wide variety of geographical indication products. From traditional handicrafts to delicious food items, there is something for everyone. These products are not only unique and interesting, but they also support the local economy and provide employment opportunities for Bangladeshis. We hope that this overview has given you a better understanding of the geographical indication products of Bangladesh and their importance.