Feni fragrance sending tipplers to IMFL
Goa's local brew-cashew feni-has few takers. Sale of country liquor (CL) when compared to Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL), shows a vast difference in revenue collected through excise duty.
While excise duty earned from IMFL runs into crores of rupees it is negligible on CL. Till December 2012, excise duty collected on CL was Rs 35 lakh whereas that on IMFL was Rs 62.62 crore. Sources said a major chunk of the revenue from CL comes through renewal of licences which happens in March and the total revenue through excise for 2012-13 is likely to be around Rs 80 lakh.
Excise department is seized of the issue and plans to meet stakeholders to find ways to improve dwindling stocks of feni. Excise commissioner Menino D'Souza said the smell associated with feni is one reason why it is losing out to IMFL despite the liquor being cheaper.
An excise officer said the younger generation has turned its back on feni as they think it's trendy to drink IMFL.
Goa cashew feni distillers and bottlers association secretary Gurudatta Bhakta said feni has taken a beating because of degeneration in quality. "There are few today who produce genuine feni, the rest indulge in adulteration," he said.
"A first time feni drinker is put off when the feni he drinks is adulterated. Naturally, he will turn to other liquors," Bhakta said. Bhakta was one of those associated with the department of science, technology and environment to obtain geographical indication (GI) status for feni in 2009.
Feni producers are yet to see any benefit from the GI registration as the government has not set up a committee to grant certification that will allow manufactures of feni to use GI status on their bottles.
"I have applied more than once to the government to allow me to use GI status on my products but it can't be done because there is no committee to give certification," he said.
Bhakta also said there is no quality control in feni production. There is no system in place to check if hygiene standards are maintained while distilling feni.
Two months ago Bhakta submitted a memorandum to chief minister Manohar Parrikar requesting a committee for certification. On behalf of the association he also demanded that "feni be included in promotional programmes of the tourism department". [TOI]