Thursday, May 15, 2014

African region has a great potential of origin linked quality products

Group pic after the opening ceremony

Mr. Vincent Fautrel, Senior Programme Coordinator Agricultural Trade and Value Chain Development Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation (ACP-EU) says the African region has a great potential of origin linked quality products: Coffee from Guinea, Atieke from Côte d’Ivoire, and Pineapple from Benin, just to mention a few.

CTA: “our interest in Origin Linked Quality Products (OLQP) and Geographical Identifications (GIs) started in the mid 2000 in the context of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) discussions but also in the framework of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations. We commissioned a few papers to highlight the key issues for the ACP countries and organized in 2008 the first ACP-EU technical workshop in Montpellier France together with CIRAD, INRA and AFD."

Mr. Fautrel was speaking at the official opening ceremony of a training workshop on Identification and Inventory of Origin Linked Quality Products Capacity strengthening programme for Central and West African countries in Akossombo, Ghana, scheduled to take place from 12th -16th May 2014.
The training was the third in a series, as the first two trainings were organised for the French-speaking countries in 2013 in Benin and Burkina Faso. 

The third training attracted participants from The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.The workshop targeted farmer organisations, policy makers, local authorities, rural leaders, NGOs and other sectors of society.

On behalf of Mr. Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU,  I welcome you all in Akosombo Ghana for this third Regional Training Course on Identification and Inventory of Origin Linked Quality Products and Geographical Indications.

"I would like to thank all the partner institutions Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, UNIDO, WIPO, ROPPA, OAPI and REDD for having accepted to embark on this initiative which was launched last year," Fautrel recognised.

Rerecalling, he said that after two successful regional training workshops held in French speaking West Africa (Cotonou in May and Ouagadougou in November), it was decided to have another training for the English speaking countries of West Africa to which we also added Rwanda at the request of our WIPO colleagues.


 Ms. Astrid Gerz from REDD was there (Cotonou in May and Ouagadougou in November) and I am sure she remembers the very lively discussions about the case studies of French GI products during the field trips we organized in the South of France.  
Last, but not least, CTA together with the ACP Secretariat and the EC organized last year in Brussels a policy briefing event on “Geography of Food’ to which WIPO and REDD were invited as panelists.

For those of you who are not familiar with our work, CTA is a joint ACP-EU organisation set up 30 years ago now in the context of the Lomé convention. Based in Wageningen in the Netherlands, we currently operate in the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and we’re funded by the EU.

CTA core mandate is facilitating access to knowledge in ARD in ACP countries, promoting dialogue and exchange of experience and building capacities at technical and institutional level. We have three main strategic goals: (i) Support well informed, inclusive agricultural policies and strategies in ACP regions; (ii) Promote smallholder agricultural value chains; and (iii) Strengthen the information, communication and knowledge management capacities of ACP institutions and networks. Our main field of action is policy, trade and value chains and ICTs. I’ll probably have the opportunity to say a bit more about our activities later on today or tomorrow during the various breaks.

As you already know, the issue of GIs has several dimensions: legal, economic, social, environmental and cultural. While it is often seen primarily as a legal issue related to the complex world of IPRs, it should also be seen as a framework to rethink strategically the positioning of specific commodity or products, discuss quality improvement issues but also discuss the governance in the chain and how added value is shared among participants in the chain. While all actors including policy makers and legal experts are key in the process, the main driving force lies at the level of the producers.

In that context farmers organizations have an important role to play to ensure that farmers are aware of the opportunities but also the challenges of developing a GI approach. And this is where CTA together with various partners can assist in providing the necessary information and knowledge but also facilitate discussions among various groups involved in setting-up such an approach. 
Preference erosion, increased competition on export markets together with a changing demand in developed markets more and more focused on quality do provide an opportunity for ACP countries to invest in quality products differentiation and branding strategies, said

This training today is therefore the continuation of a process from awareness raising to capacity building, he concluded. 

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