Yala fish poised for GI registration

Yala fish poised for GI registration

Push follows PM's visit to southern border province

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin gets a close-up look at a Betong tilapia during his visit to the district in Yala province earlier this week. (Photo: Department of Intellectual Property Facebook)
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin gets a close-up look at a Betong tilapia during his visit to the district in Yala province earlier this week. (Photo: Department of Intellectual Property Facebook)

Two indigenous freshwater fish in Yala are expected to receive geographical indication (GI) registration within this year, according to the Department of Intellectual Property.

The two indigenous fish could be developed into “soft power” products in the food category, said Vuttikrai Leewiraphan, director-general of the department.

He made the comments a day after Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin visited the southern border province  and spoke about seeking new ways to improve the economic fortunes of the area.

Following the visit, Mr Vuttikrai said his department received requests from representatives of farmers and business operators in Betong district to register two freshwater fish: Hala-Bala Khela mahseer (river carp) and Betong tilapia.

GI is an internationally recognised certification used to identify a product as originating in the territory of a particular country, region or locality that has unique characteristics, which can increase its market value in developed countries.

There are 200 Thai GI-registered products in various categories, such as food, agricultural products and appliances.

The Ministry of Commerce wants to increase the GI product list by another 20 items this year, aiming to boost sales of GI products to 60 billion baht in 2024, from 50 billion last year.

For a product to obtain GI status, it must possess three components: natural attributes, production processes, and a compelling story.

According to Mr Vuttikrai, the registration drive aims to elevate the quality of community products, attract tourists, generate employment and create income to improve the well-being of local people.

Registration also marks a significant step in the development of the freshwater fishing industry in Yala, he said.

Hala-Bala Khela mahseer is a rare fish with parent and breeding stock originating from the Hala-Bala forest stream. It is cultivated using a natural flowing water system.

The distinct characteristics include a pink body, red dorsal and caudal fins, and soft white flesh. As there is collagen in its scales, both the meat and scales are consumed, and the market value can reach 3,000 to 3,500 baht per kilogramme.

It takes a minimum of 2-3 years to raise the fish before it can be sold.

Betong tilapia is extensively bred in the mountainous region of San Kala Khiri in Betong district. It is raised in ponds with a continuous water flow, resulting in higher oxygen levels compared to regular fish ponds.

This unique environment gives the Betong tilapia distinctive features, such as a small head, dense flesh, smooth white colour, sweet taste and lack of muddy odour. The price is roughly 300 baht per kg.

Together, the two types of fish contribute more than 44 million baht to Yala province.

Betong tilapia is one of two indigenous freshwater fish in Yala. (Photo: Department of Intellectual Property Facebook)

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