3 December 2012

Africa: EU Partners With NGOs in Agriculture

Dar es Salaam — The European Union's Commission has signed a cooperation agreement on the protection of traditional agricultural products with the African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO), a move which will see aboriginal farmers boost yields.

Mr. Dacian CioloÅŸ, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the cooperation will result into better protection for the traditional and indigenous products of farmers across the continent of Africa.

This was during the signing of the agreement that took place at the annual ARIPO governing council meeting, held in Zanzibar last week.

"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" he said.

Dr Gift Sibanda, ARIPO's Director General said that through the cooperation with the Commission, they hope to build a system of effective geographical indication (GI) protection, suited to African farmers' declared.

The non- legally binding memorandum of understanding commits the two sides to work together on promoting GIs, including building a legal framework for GIs, under which Africans would have to protect European GIs.

GIs have been alighted upon in recent years as an economic development engine for developing countries, as a way to organize and elevate agricultural production, including through increased awareness.

Protection of geographical indications has long been a priority of the European Union, which has many such products, and it has been promoting GI protection worldwide, including in trade negotiations.

The ARIPO Council adopted a decision to develop a system for protection of geographical indications in December 2011, and has received support from the EU on this work.

ARIPO was established to pool the resources of its member African countries in industrial property matters together in order to avoid duplication of financial and human resources.

It promotes the harmonization and development of the industrial property laws, and matters related thereto, appropriate to the needs of its members and of the region as a whole. It is based in Harare Zimbabwe and has 18 member countries and 12 observers.

The members are Botswana, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, the Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In December 2011 the ARIPO Council adopted a decision to develop a system for protection of geographical indications. The European Commission (DG AGRI) has worked with ARIPO in regional seminars to promote the use of International Property Right in inter-regional and international trade.

The present administrative memorandum of understanding will formalize this cooperation in respect of geographical indications.

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