Commercialising Asian food products - FAO, EC and DIP cooperation on Geographic Indicators 11 Jun 2009 -- Bangkok - Asian farmers and agrifood supply chains are set to benefit from latest initiatives to support products registered with Geographic Indication (GI) to enter global markets, including the EU. During joint FAO-EC-DIP regional meetings in Bangkok this week, representatived from 16 countries in Asia-Pacific drew up action plans aimed at empowering Asian and Thai producers to apply for GI in other countries to protect their products and turn them into household names world wide. At the conference today seven products were awarded a GI certificate by the directorgeneral of the Thai department of intellectual property from the ministry of commerce: Khao Jeck Chuey Soa Hai; Khao Leuang Patew Chumphon; Kaowong Kalasin sticky rice; Prosciutto di Parma; Bor Sang umbrella; Ban Chiang pottery; and Chiang Mai Celadon. Regarding the legal framework, the meetings recommended that governments provide clear and correct definitions of what GI is and build expertise for assessing registration applications based on a Code of Practice. The experts also highlighted the importance of coordination between public institutions and raising consumer awareness of GI. Countries should establish a national GI label and ensure that GI marketing chains benefit producers. The codes of practice and guarantee systems for GI should be elaborated through participatory approaches and industry stakeholders are encouraged to promote their GI products through local and international trade fairs and linkages with the tourism industry. "GIs are not only worth protecting because of their connection to quality, tradition and reputation. They also make a very valuable contribution to sustainable rural development. Some studies showed that GIs serve as an important marketing tool to help farmers and producers to commercialise their traditional products whilst associating them with a specific quality of characteristic that make them more attractive to consumers. Statistics in the EU clearly confirm that consumers are willing to pay premium price for the GI products", said Ambassador and Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Thailand, David Lipman. While adding money for producers, foods of origin-linked quality constitute an important part of the world's diversity, offer consumers a wider choice and contribute to global food security, an FAO statement said today. Countries in Asia have chosen different institutional arrangements to manage such schemes which are particularly appropriate in fragile or marginalised eco-zones. FAO's Quality&Origin programme aims at bolstering the link between a food product and its territory thus preventing delocalisation, while preserving local resources, such as environment and landscape, culture and know-how. "Many Asian countries can boast to have unique food products of local or international reputation for quality and origin. FAO is thus further promoting this novel idea and its adoption by small-farmer groups in Asia through our advocacy and capacity building programme. This is another promising option for sustainable rural development and income diversification," noted He Changchui, FAO's chief for Asia and the Pacific.
Co-organised by FAO, the delegation of the European Commission to Thailand, and the department of Intellectual Property, Thai Ministry of Commerce the regional seminar from 8 to 10 June was followed by a one day regional conference on 11 June. Europe is known for diversity of high quality agriculture, food and drinks products protected with a geographical name - Prosciutto di Parma (Italy), Scotch beef, Kalamata olive oil (Greece) - that has acquired a reputation that local actors wish to protect. Europe introduced an EU-wide system of definitions, quality standards and labelling in the wine and spirits sector and adopted the first EU Geographical Indications rules in 1992. More information at: http://www.doingbusinesswiththeeu.com/