Agri Business

GI tag and branding boost demand for Mattu Gulla brinjal

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on May 01, 2018 Published on May 01, 2018

Efforts by a set of growers — assisted by Nabard financially, and a private university in the form of marketing interventions — have helped boost the prospects of ‘Mattu Gulla’ (a brinjal variety ) with geographical indication (GI) tag in Udupi district of Karnataka.

‘Mattu Gulla’ is now seeing better prospects after growers started marketing it with trademark stickers as a stamp of authenticity.

For over 120 growers including Laxman Mattu, who live near the seashore at Mattu village in Udupi district, the cultivation of the vegetable is the main source of livelihood. They grow this unique brinjal on around 200 acres of land for almost eight months from October to June.

Considering the demand for this variety in the market, traders were earlier marketing brinjal grown in other villages of the district also as ‘Mattu Gulla’.

Laxman Mattu, who is also the manager of Mattu Gulla Belegarara Sangha (Mattu Gulla growers’ society), told BusinessLine that though Mattu growers start planting seeds in August, some traders were marketing brinjal from other villages as ‘Mattu Gulla’ in August itself.

S Ramesh, Assistant General Manager of Nabard, Mangaluru, said that the bank sanctioned Mattu Gulla FPO (farmer producer organisation) project in 2015. This project got a financial assistance of ₹9.06 lakh from the Nabard. Manipal Academy of Higher Education’s (MAHE) Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) stepped in as the hand-holding agency for growers in marketing.

‘Mattu Gulla’ had got the GI tag in 2011-12. Laxman Mattu said that the growers’ society applied for trademark through the Karnataka Horticulture Department after that and got one.

HG Joshi, professor at Department of Commerce and Chairperson CSE, MAHE, said that Mattu Gulla has a unique taste which other varieties don’t have. Scientific studies had shown that the taste and aroma that Mattu Gulla are unique. Even if the seeds are taken from Mattu and planted elsewhere in other villages in the district, the brinjal will not get the same taste or aroma. It can be grown only in Mattu village. That is why it is recognised for GI tag. The idea of marketing ‘Mattu Gulla’ with stickers was to distinguish this unique variety . “If people can buy banana and apple with a sticker, why not the same can be done for a vegetable with a GI tag,” he said.

Following this, the society started marketing ‘Mattu Gulla’ with trademark stickers from December 2017, he said.

Asked if the marketing intervention has helped the growers, Laxman Mattu said the growers were getting ₹10 a kg at this point of time last year. There were cases when farmers got ₹5 a kg also, he said. This year, growers are getting around ₹25, and the growers’ society is marketing ‘Mattu Gulla’ at ₹35/kg. He said the society uses the additional funds marketing, grading, preparing stickers and for paying workers.

Laxman Mattu said that earlier farmers were individually giving their produce to three-four brokers. However, now the board of directors of the society meets every Saturday to decide the price of the crop for the coming week based on the demand in the market and production.

“Till last week, the marketing price by society was around ₹30 a kg. Now the production has come down. So now we have increased it to ₹35,” he said.

He said the production has come down to around one tonne a day now. It reaches up to 2.5 tonnes a day during the peak season. The average production during the eight-month period is around 1.25 tonnes a day.

Joshi said that the stickers are centrally controlled by the society and monitored regularly to prevent misuse.

He said that the trademark sticker is applied only to the first grade quality of brinjal, which is bigger in size, from the production available. The smaller ones from the stock are usually purchased by hotel owners in the region.

It is said that the saint Vadiraja of Sode Math of Udupi gave the seeds of this variety to the devotees from the village centuries ago. True to their devotion, Mattu villagers offer their first harvest to the Udupi temple every year.

‘Gulla’ means round in the local Tulu language. This vegetable is green in colour with light green stripes. It has a thin skin. ‘Mattu Gulla’ has good amount of pulp and less of seeds.

Sambar prepared from ‘Mattu Gulla’ is a must during the Paryaya festival in Udupi. (Paryaya is a biennial religious event marking the transfer of worship and management of Udupi Sri Krishna temple from one seer to another seer of the eight maths.)

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Published on May 01, 2018
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