Journalists, youth activists, others hold forum on GIs in The Gambia

By Kebba Jeffang

Local journalists, youth representatives and students on Thursday 17thGIs Forum July held a one day forum on Geographical Indications, a programme organized under the auspices of Biodiversity Action Journalists Gambia (BAJ-Gambia) held at its head office in Churchill’s Town.

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

According to the head of BAJ-Gambia, the objective was to recognize the link between local actors, their territories or zones, agricultural production and foodstuff; which is an important step towards 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 has specific quality attributes inseparable from the place where they are 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.

He said, “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.

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 products.

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.

Some of the organisations or institutions working on GI include the Technical Centre for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA), a 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 of over 2 million producers from more than 40 countries, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), World Trade Organisation (WTO) are involved in GI activities.