Home   >   NEWS & VIEWS   >   News

  • Feni to get heritage drink tag

    Dec 1st, 2015

    Panaji: The state government has initiated the process to formulate Feni policy, which will declare Goan traditional cashew and coconut Feni as state heritage drink. The heritage drink tag is aimed at facilitating sale of the drink legally in other parts of the country. The move will help boost cashew and coconut Feni distillery business, create market with marginal prices and standardise the distillation. Feni, which is distilled from cashew apples and fermented toddy from coconut’s tender fronds is very famous for its medicinal and other uses.

    Goa received a Geographical Indication certificate for cashew Feni in 2007, but the state has not been able to cash in on the GI tag vigorously. By virtue of the certification, only liquor made from cashew apples within Goa can be called ‘Feni’. But the local brew is still classified as country liquor and the country liquors can only be sold within the states where they are made.

    Faced with this situation, cashew Feni bottlers and distillers have been lobbying with the state government to classify the brew either as a ‘heritage liquor’ or an IMFL (Indian made foreign liquor) so that it can be sold in other states which could have potentially huge markets. The state government and the excise commissioner office came to the consensus that the Goa’s traditional drink – cashew and coconut feni – has potential; it is high time to boost it economically through proper marketing and standardisation of distillery and bottling works. The process to formulate draft policy has already started by the government-appointed committee under the chairmanship of excise commissioner Menino de Souza.The official from the departments like tourism, science and technology and food and drugs administration besides members of All-Goa Feni Distillers and Bottlers Association are the members of the committee.

    “The committee has had two-three meetings and discussed various aspects as well as process that involves in making cashew and coconut Feni. Now, we will go to the stakeholders to hear out their grievances and suggestions in this regard. After holding one more meeting, the committee will submit its report to the government on Feni policy,” de Souza said. The committee has decided to hold a daylong workshop with experts and stakeholders in January to deliberate on various aspects. After incorporating the suggestions the committee will prepare its final report and recommendations, which will be later submitted to the government. The excise commissioner said that since Feni has huge potential we have to promote it as a value-added product under the proposed policy, which would not only create market at national level but would benefit traditional cashew cultivators and distillers economically.

    Besides, efforts would be made to attract youth in this traditional business, he said. The committee is also going through various research works and articles which are already published on this subject, besides having consultations with various writers and researchers. The policy would also have action plans like appropriate legislation to be put in place, registration of traditional distillers, provision of subsidy to encourage Feni producers, mechanism for standardisation and proper marketing, de Souza said, adding that through legislation the excise commissioner office would have power to act against the sale of fake or adulterated Feni. It is also interesting to note that the grey market for the brew is huge, with many bottlers and distillers themselves allegedly involved in the lucrative trade. There are 1641 ‘cashew zones’ in Goa, which are auctioned every year by the excise department and the revenue of over Rs 35 lakh is generated from it. As per the government record, 34.24akh bulk litre cashew Feni was distilled in 2011 in the state. In 2012 it was 34.63 lakh, 2013 (37.06 lakh), 2014 (34.58 lakh) and 31.93 lakh bulk litre of the liquor was brewed in 2015.