Global access for farmers through Geographical Indications initiative

archer10 flickrFAO, in conjunction with the ministry of science and technology of Lao PDR, the French development Agency (AFD) and the French Embassy in Vientiane has launched a regional symposium promoting the Geographical Indications (GI) initiative

The initiative aims to help smallholder farmers reach a much broader market.

The GI is an intellectual property right of a product and is specific to its geographical location. Receiving a GI certification means a product is named after its geographical origin, such as ‘Kampot Pepper’ from Cambodia or ‘Darjeeling Tea’ from India. In order to receive a GI certification on a product, farmers must meet specifications and standards on food quality, production and marketing mechanisms. Coffee from Lao PDR’s Bolaven Plateau is poised to receive that country’s first GI recognition.

FAO assistant director-general and regional representative for Asia, Kundhavi Kadiresan said, “FAO is working in close collaboration with governments to help smallholder farmers like Lao PDR’s coffee growers, improve their production methods and gain better access to international markets. When smallholder farmers have greater capacity to package and market their own products, it eliminates the ‘middleman’ and that gives farmers’ greater control over their products, which in turn can lead to an improvement in their livelihoods and food security.”

The symposium, which has drawn participants from across Asia, aims to promote a better understanding of how to access the GI system, as well as provide an opportunity for smallholder farmers to showcase their products in national and international markets. In addition to farmers, the participants included international traders, hoteliers and restauranteurs. As part of an exhibition, cooks from various countries prepared meals using only GI certified products.

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