WITH the aim of improving protection for traditional agricultural product in Africa, a cooperation agreement was signed today between the African Regional Intellectual Property Office (ARIPO) and the European Commission's DG AGRIculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI).
The signing ceremony took place at the annual ARIPO governing council meeting, held today (November 26) in Zanzibar in the United Republic of Tanzania, between Dr. Gift Sibanda, Director General of ARIPO and Mrs. Loretta Dorma-Marino, Deputy Director General of DG AGRI.
The ARIPO conference was officially opened by the Zanzibar First Vice President Seif Sharif Hamad.
Mr. Dacian Cioloş, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, welcomed the agreement, “This cooperation will result in better protection for the traditional and indigenous products of farmers across the continent of Africa. This is an important initiative and will help secure the interests of local farmers.”
He added, "I urge officials on both sides to work together and with stakeholders to make the GI programme a reality in 2013,in time for the launch of the FAO's International Year of Family Farming in 2014."
Speaking at the opening plenary Dr. Sibanda, said "I am delighted by this agreement. We took a strategic decision last year to develop geographical indication protection. With this cooperation with European Commission's DG AGRI, we hope to build a system of effective GI protection, suited to African farmers' needs."
In her keynote address to the ARIPO council Mrs Dormal-Marino urged the intellectual property offices of the 18- member organisation to start work on developing awareness for geographical indications among stakeholders.
On his part Ambassador Filiberto Sebregondi, EU's envoy to Tanzania, who attended the signature ceremony said: "I'm happy that the signature took place in Zanzibar, giving recognition to the importance that both sides give to traditional agriculture in Africa and it will thus help promoting African farmers' product and traditions and contribute to poverty reduction."
The agreement is in the form of an administrative Memorandum of Understanding in which DG AGRI and ARIPO undertake to work together in development of GIs. The agreement is non-legally binding.
ARIPO 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, the United Republic of 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 IPR in inter-regional and international trade. The present administrative memorandum of understanding will formalise this cooperation in respect of geographical indications.
For more information contact:
Tom Vens, Head Political, Press and Information Section EU Delegation to Tanzania