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Journalists, youth activists hold forum on GIs in The Gambia

Jul 21, 2014, 1:53 PM | Article By: Yai Dibba

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

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

According to BAJ-Gambia boss, the objective was to recognise the link between local actors, their territories or zone, agricultural production and foodstuff, which was 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, Sallah said.

Mr Sallah stated that local products have specific quality attributes inseparable from the place where they are produced. They have ultimately built a reputation in association with 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.

“Through GIs, products are differentiated based on their geographical origin, as markets become more and more globalized and trade regulations shift towards 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, he added, FAO 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 could increase food security through their contribution to rural development and the preservation of food diversity and also by offering consumers a wider choice, she said.

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 product.

The promotion of links among local stakeholders, their territories or zones and their food products could be a tool for sustainable development in rural communities throughout the world.

She noted that some of the organizations 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).