Th 2, 26/09/2022 | 14:40 CH
Geographical indication protection: Upgrading local specialty value chains
Geographical indications (GI) have become one of the driving forces for enhancing agricultural value chains of countries such as Vietnam that have not developed the deep post-harvesting processing technology for agricultural products despite having many advantages.
The results of many years of hard work
In 2021-2022, good news continuously comes to Viet Nam's agricultural product industry when Luc Ngan (Bac Giang) lychee and Binh Thuan dragon fruit officially become the first products to be protected as GIs in Japan. It is of great significance that Vietnamese products are protected by GI in such a "demanding" market. In addition to protecting trademarks for agricultural products from being "stolen" when entering foreign markets, GI also contributes to the increase in average selling prices and their popularity and trust in the markets.
The protection of Luc Ngan lychee and Binh Thuan dragon fruit as GIs in Japan was selected as one of the top 10 science and technology events in 2021.
Those typical products, among the 116 protected GI products are the achievments resulted from many years of efforts by provincial Science and technology department and the Intellectual Property Office of Vietnam. With the diversity of ecological conditions, traditions, and production experiences of different ethnic groups, rural areas in Viet Nam have advantages in producing and supplying many local agricultural specialties. The use of geographical names and indications to register for local specialty products means that these products are associated with the reputation and quality of a region or an area. This is the orientation that many countries around the world are following to limit/restrict reputation abuse, combat infringements and unfair competition in the market, and improve product value.
To create conditions for local areas to develop local specialties, the Prime Minister of Viet Nam issued Decision No. 1068/QD-TTg dated August 22, 2019, on the Intellectual Property Strategy toward 2030; Decision No. 2205/QD-TTg dated December 24, 2020, on the Intellectual Property Development Program toward 2030; Decision No. 150/QD-TTg dated January 28, 2022, on the Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in the 2021-2030 period, with a vision toward 2050. The Ministry of Science and Technology, the Departments of Science and Technology, and the Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development of the provinces have coordinated/ collaborated to implement many programs and projects to develop intellectual property. As a result, the number of products protected by collective marks is increasing rapidly. Once protected, many products have been exploited and developed commercially to bring high economic benefits to stakeholders participating in the value chain.
Currently, Yen Bai, Ha Giang, Thanh Hoa, and Ben Tre are provinces with many protected GIs (Yen Bai: 8; Ha Giang: 7; Thanh Hoa: 6; Ben Tre: 5). After being protected as GIs, the price of Meo Vac mint honey increased by 100-150%, Phu Quoc fish sauce increased by 30-50%, Phuc Trach pomelo increased by 30-35%, Vinh oranges increased more than 50%.
The problem of maintaining quality
Among GI protected products, some are economically exploited in efficient manners, others have not overcome obstacles in penetrating and developing markets. The key reasons include:
(i) Most of GI products in Vietnam are raw or premierly processed products, in the form of raw materials such as coffee beans, cinnamon bark, anise... , which results in limitations of market development. The protection of GIs is only a prerequisite step for promoting the value of agricultural product chains. How to better use those intellectual properties is a problem for the entire agricultural product processing industry.
(ii) The scale of production and deep processing of some products is still relatively fragmented, making it difficult to access to large consumer markets and export to demand markets. Meanwhile, many localities have massively expanded their farming scales, production areas have been disrupted, and supply is greater than demand, while geographical indication products are mostly fresh products. seasonality, resulting in unsatisfactory product quality. As a result, the value, fame and reputation of products bearing geographical indications are also somewhat reduced.
(iii) Currently, most protected geographical indications receive state support from development to management. Enterprises, professional organizations, and manufacturers are less involved in the development of geographical indication protection and do not actively participate in the management process, leading to difficulties in the development of geographical indications.
Therefore, in the future, to promote the value of geographical indication protections, it is necessary to conduct feasibility studies to identify products and choose a form of protection for them. Specifically, before choosing a form of protection, it is necessary to collect information about the needs, the production capacity of producers , specific quality of products, the scale and production potential, the market development potential as well as its competitiveness (quality and price).
A geographical indication is community property, the value of the product needs to be built by the community and must also be managed by that community. Therefore, in the process of developing geographical indications for local specialties, the role of producers and business community is very important. Any impact, whether objective or subjective, may lead to a deviation from reality, leading to difficulties in the management and use of geographical indications after being protected by the State. Therefore, the participation of the community of manufacturers and traders of products bearing geographical indications from the very beginning will facilitate the management and development of geographical indications later.
After all, the registration of geographical indications protection is just the first stage. It is important that once these product are protected , the key to improving the position of Vietnamese agricultural products is how farmers, businesses, local authorities, and managers will maintain quality assurance for the sustainable development of these products.
Center for Examining Geographical Indication and International Trademark
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