Monday, 8 April 2013

Has Feni lost its kick?

Most of you must have heard about Goa’s famous booze – Feni. Did you know that the original Goan Feni is not available out the state of Goa. And what is the reason for this restriction? Lousy government policies!

As per reliable sources, 60,000 bottles of Feni is bottled annually in Goa. Local experts say, it takes three days to make the Goan Feni. Now the GI certification gives only Goa the right to produce Feni. GI certification assigned to Feni in 2009 is valid for 10 years. And GI is considered as the first step towards claiming international registration.

Unfortunately as it has been labelled ‘Country liquor’ it cannot be sold in other parts of the country. Such alcohol can be on sale only within the boundaries of the state producing them. Also by virtue of the certification, only liquor made from cashew apples within Goa can be called Feni, very much like Champagne, the wine made in Champagne region of France.

Feni bottlers and distillers have been lobbying with the state governments to classify the brew as ‘heritage liquor’ or IMFL (Indian made foreign liquor) so that it can be sold in other states with big demand and large market for Feni, that is famous as the Goan brew with the real kick.

‘The GI tag has absolutely not helped the marketing or sales of cashew Feni. If it is made IMFL, then may be the market will open up,’ says Gurudatta Bhakta, Secretary of the Cashew Feni distillers & bottlers association. However the President of the association, Mac Vaz differs, ‘The GI certification is to protect cashew Feni, not to promote it. The GI tag will prevent other states, such as Maharastra, Karnataka or Kerala which also produce large quantities of cashew apples, from producing and selling Feni. He feels if, the government classifies cashew Feni as ‘heritage liquor’, exporting it will become easier. According to the association sources, fake cashew Feni volumes are increasing to probably about 20 times the genuine stuff. Most of which is sold to unsuspecting local and foreign tourists. Besides most of the stuff sold in shacks, taverns and bars in Goa is also adulterated brew. Now the association is serious and has initiated a move to certify the genuine Goan cashew Feni. The government and present chief minister has promised to look into the matter, not only protecting it but also marketing it all over. It will also fetch the state good revenue. And one day Goan Feni might be famous world-wide as the Champagne from France or Vodka from Russia.