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  • Cashew brew from Jharkhand not feni’

    Dec 6th, 2015

    Panaji: Jharkhand government's plans to cultivate cashews on barren land and invite bottling companies to distill, bottle and sell feni is all very well as long as the drink is not marketed as 'Feni'.The geographical indication (GI) certificate owned by the government of Goa's department of science and technology and the Goa Cashew Feni distillers and Bottlers Association permits only liquor made from cashew apples within Goa to be called 'Feni'."We can't stop anyone from growing a cashew tree or distilling or bottling feni but they can't call it by the same name," says president of the association Mac Vaz.The Jharkhand government has over eight lakh hectares of barren land of which it plans to devote one lakh towards cashew cultivations so that farmers can benefit from their cultivation. The state horticulture director and state industry department have come on record to say they are looking to push feni with the department also opening its doors to brewing and bottling companies promising them support in the form of land.

    The irony lies in the fact that much of the labour that works on cashew farms in Goa hail from Jharkhand. Many trying to escape the Maoist insurgency have made Goa their home and work on farms in Cansaulim, Verna, Sao Jose de Areal and even in Sanguem."People may call them Biharis but they are Jharkhand tribals who have escaped to a peaceful place. Locals have either migrated or taken up tourism and allied activities and this labour force has come to the rescue of the industry. For the tribals from Jharkhand, alcohol is a social lubricant and it is not taboo for both the men and women to brew liquor," Hansel Vaz says.There's still much to be done in the state to protect Feni's image. "The GI was meant to protect the brand from outside infringement but now we need to protect Feni from a few terrorists within the industry who are giving it a bad name by compromising on its quality," Mac Vaz says.The government is working to give the spirit 'heritage liquor' status that will help the liquor which is now classified as country liquor, be sold in other states in the country. A feni roadmap is presently being drawn up.Should the Jharkhand government begin distilling feni Hansel has no qualms that the labour here who have mastered the technique will return to brew it back home. The unique way of distilling feni is completely responsible for its flavor and smell and the finer steps of the process shouldn't be shared, stakeholders say. "We need to safeguard our property," Hansel says.