In a bid to bolster the recognition and export potential of its indigenous treasures, Prayagraj’s district officials have set their sights on securing a Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Moonj products under the ‘One District One Product’ (ODOP) initiative. Moonj, a versatile material derived from a type of wild grass abundant along the Yamuna’s banks, is poised to follow in the footsteps of the renowned Allahabadi guava in obtaining this prestigious GI tag.

Key Highlights:

  • Prayagraj seeks GI tag for Moonj products.
  • GI tags protect products’ authenticity and origin.
  • ODOP initiative transforms the lives of over 500 women artisans.

The ODOP scheme, championed by the state government, spotlights unique regional products, and Prayagraj’s Moonj offerings have now taken center stage.

District officials have already submitted their application to the Central government for the coveted GI tag, a move expected to catapult Moonj products into the international market, amplifying their export potential.

A recent District GI Committee meeting at Vikas Bhawan witnessed discussions on this application, further detailing its contents for submission to the Central government. The Allahabadi guava, which received its GI tag in 2007–2008, serves as a precedent for the positive impacts a GI tag can have on regional products.

For the uninitiated, a Geographical Indication (GI) tag bestows a unique identity upon products that are intrinsically linked to a specific geographic area. This designation ensures that only authorized individuals or entities residing within the designated territory can utilize the product’s name, safeguarding it from unauthorized duplication.

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The Moonj product landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation over the years, evolving from traditional baskets to exquisite artificial jewelry and decorative items crafted from Moonj grass. Despite this evolution, challenges persist in securing substantial foreign orders.

SK Srivastava, Deputy Director (Agriculture) in Prayagraj, who attended the District GI Committee meeting on September 4, stated, “The GI tag will be conferred upon Moonj products by the Government of India, provided all export standards are met. This will grant Moonj products a distinct identity, facilitating smoother exports.”

Moonj, a wild grass flourishing in the vicinity of the Yamuna river in Prayagraj, primarily engages women artisans. The grass’s outer layer is meticulously peeled and woven, a skill honed over the past six to seven decades. The grass is harvested during the winter, and its peel is left to dew-dry, lightening its color. Today, it is often dyed in vibrant hues and bound with materials such as plastic strips, tinsel, or cloth.

Across villages like Mahewa, Dandi, and Badoka in the Chaka development block, located approximately 20 km from Sangam city, numerous women artisans have harnessed Moonj’s potential. They fashion a diverse array of products, including baskets (daliya), coasters, bags, decorative items, pen stands, and jewelry pieces. These creations have already attracted orders from various parts of India, including Goa, New Delhi, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan.

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The ODOP initiative has been a game-changer for more than 500 women artisans engaged in Moonj product manufacturing in Prayagraj. What was once sold for a mere ₹50, such as the ‘Dauri,’ now commands a higher price, with small paperweights selling for ₹120. Wall hangings range from ₹500 to ₹700 each, and bouquets start at ₹300. Moonj’s artificial jewelry pieces are priced at ₹300 and above, reflecting not only their aesthetic appeal but also the craftsmanship behind them.

In the heart of Prayagraj, the quest for the GI tag for Moonj products is poised to unlock new horizons, preserving the heritage of Moonj craft while improving the livelihoods of its skilled artisans.