Tuesday, July 22, 2014

GAMBIA: Journalists, youth organisations, students' researchers discuss GIs importance

Participants at  GIs Gambia forum
BiodiversityAction Journalists Gambia (BAJ Gambia) advocacy journalists organisation on Thursday 17th July brought together local journalists, youth organisations and student researchers under one conference room to discuss on Geographical Indications (GIs), a program organized under the auspices of Biodiversity Action Journalists Gambia (BAJ-Gambia) held at its head office in Churchill’s Town.

The general objective of the gathering is to share GIs information with participants as well as putting in place GIs team in The Gambia.

This idea came as result of two BAJ officials, Mamadou Edrisa Njie, BAJ Gambia Director of Programmes cum Editorial Assistant and Newsroom Coordinator at The Gambia News & Report Magazine and my humble self Ms. Amie Faye BAJ Gambia Director for communications and Senior Staff Reporter at The Gambia News and Report weekly magazine, who attended a training workshop on Geographical Identification and Inventory of Origin Linked Quality Products Capacity Strengthening Programme for Central and West African countries between 12th  to 16th May, 2014 in Akossombo, Ghana.
The May, training workshop in Ghana was a joint initiative between FAO, UNIDO, CTA, WIPO, ROPPA, OAPI and REDD receives financial support from the European Union and the Swiss Government.

Speaking earlier the executive director of BAJ Gambia Mr. Abdou Rahman Sallah hailed the participants to Ghana training which as a result brought about the initiation of Geographical Indications to be implemented by BAJ Gambia.

According to BAJ-Gambia boss, the objective was to recognizing the link between local actors, their territories or zone, agricultural production and foodstuff; which is an important step toward sustainable rural development. These relations are based on local capacity to create value in global market, while remaining rooted in a given zone.

Mr. Sallah stated that local product have specific quality attributes inseparable from the place where they produced these ultimately build a reputation association with a geographical indication GI, which identifies the products.

Mamadou Edrisa Njie, Director for Programmes Biodiversity Action Journalists Gambia (BAJ Gambia) said Geographical Indications (GIs) are names of natural agricultural products and foodstuffs, wines, spirits, as well as other traditionally made products such as handicrafts.

According to him, these products are deeply rooted in a given geographical and cultural environment and the unique qualities and characteristics of such products depend fundamentally on their geographical origin by virtue of their climate, soil composition, human and other factors.

“Through GIs, products are differentiated based on their geographical origin, as markets become more and more globalized and trade regulations shift toward traceability, producers around the world are viewing GI scheme with increasing interest”.

He said: Action to promote such products, particularly through their geographical indication, is relatively recent and is accompanied by requests for support and guidelines.

In 2007 FAO therefore launched a programme on specific quality with a view to supporting the development of procedures for the recognition and promotion of origin-linked specific quality, both for institutions and for producers, suited to the specific economic, social and cultural context.

In summing his speech, Njie gave the following points as essential on GIs.
1-      Protection of a geographical indication gives an executive right to use the name to a collective of legitimate users
2-      The product must be recognized and appreciated by purchasers (consumers)
Geographical indications compare with other labels-
1-      Various labels and voluntary standards allows the product to be distinguished on the market on the basis of various different values
2-      They meet a variety of needs on the market
3-      These labels are organized in a wide range of ways
Marketing of GI products-
1-      The protected name is a good basis for a strong common identity, which is essential for communication
2-      In order to have the anticipated success, it is not enough to register the name and ensure its protection as a geographical indication; it must also be possible to sell the product at a profitable price in order to ensure reproduction of the resources needed for the production system. Planning of strategic marketing and the marketing mix is vital in order to achieve this price
3-      Good communications are based on the qualities and characteristics of the product.
4-      Good coordination between collective marketing (managed by the GI organisation) and the marketing enterprises is vital in order to ensure that messages are clear.
5-      The reputation of the GI (the common major asset of the value chain) is always boosted by good collective marketing.
Ms. Amie Faye director of communications BAJ-Gambia said some agricultural and food products are distinguished from one another by certain characteristics, qualities or reputations resulting essentially from their origin. These origin-linked quality products can increase food security through their contribution to rural development and the preservation of food diversity and also by offering consumers a wider choice.

According to her, such products often become the basis for dynamic rural tourism initiatives that include farm visits and farm stays, local festivals and networks of local restaurants prominently featuring the famous local product.

 The promotion of links among local stakeholders, their territories or zones and their food products can be a tool for sustainable development in rural communities throughout the world.

Noting that, some of the organizations or institutions working on GI include the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) is joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU).

In her vote of thanks Ms. Jainaba Manjang BAJ-Gambia secretary said Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Organisation for an International Geographical Indications Network (origin) is a global alliance of producers of geographical indications, representing some 250 associations over 2 million producers from more than 40 countries, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), World Trade Organisation (WTO) are involve in GI activities.

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