Bihar’s Shahi litchi has received the geographical indication tag, the director of the National Research Centre on Litchi confirmed to IANS on Thursday. The fruit is mostly grown in Muzaffarpur and its neighbouring districts of East Champaran, Vaishali, Samastipur and Begusarai.

“It [Shahi litchi] has officially become an exclusive brand with the GI tag,” said Vishal Nath. “We were informed about this positive development on Tuesday.”

The tag, awarded by the India Patent Office, allows a state or a geographical region to lay an exclusive claim over a product, gives an assurance of quality, and is often used as a reason to increase product rates. A few other products with a geographical indication tag are Darjeeling tea, Mahabaleshwar strawberry, Jaipur blue pottery, Banarasi sarees and Tirupati laddus.

The tag will improve demand for the fruit and reduce the fear of fake and poor quality litchis, said Nath. “The GI tag for the fruit will help and benefit thousands of litchi growers who will gain access to more markets and get better price in the country and abroad,” he added.

The registration was done in the name of the Muzaffarpur-based Litchi Growers Association of Bihar, which had applied for the tag, said the Litchi Growers Association of Bihar President Bachcha Prasad Singh. The state produces 40% of the litchis grown in India on 38% of the area.

The Bihar Agriculture University started the process of registration a year back, reported The Telegraph. After the process was completed, details of the product were published in June under the patent rights in the Union government geographical indication journal. They were open to objections for a period of three months.

“No objections came during this period following which the tag was accorded to Shahi litchi,” said Bihar Agriculture University Director (Extension Education) RK Sohane.

The fruit is the fourth product from Bihar, after Jardalu mango, Katarni rice and Magahi paan, to receive the status.

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced a geographical indication tag for the Alphonso mango from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and other nearby areas in Maharashtra.