EC signs pact to protect traditional African agricultural products

by Wallace Mawire

The European Commission has signed  in Zanzibar (Tanzania) a cooperation agreement with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) to improve the protection of traditional agricultural products (geographical indications or “GIs”) in Africa, according to the African Press Organisation (APO).

APO reports that this will involve, among other matters, promoting the GI legal framework, informing producers and other stakeholders and enhancing the public’s awareness of GIs and their potential for African producers.

According to APO, Dacian Cioloş, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “This cooperation will result in better protection for farmers’ traditional and indigenous products across Africa. This is an important initiative, which will help secure the interests of African farmers.” He added, “I urge officials on both sides to work together and with stakeholders to make the geographical indications programme a reality in 2013. This will make a strong contribution to the FAO’s International Year of Family Farming in 2014.”

Speaking at the opening plenary of the 36th session of ARIPO’s Administrative Council, where the agreement was signed, Dr Gift Sibanda, ARIPO’s Director General, declared “I am delighted with this agreement. We took a strategic decision last year to develop geographical indication protection. Through this cooperation with the Commission, we hope to build a system of effective GI protection, suited to African farmers’ needs.”

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