The Federal Government on Thursday reiterated its commitment towards industrial property legislation to enhance and promote Nigeria’s Geographical Indications (GIs).
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajiya Mariam Katagum, said this in her address of welcome at the Capacity Building Workshop on GIs for Public Sector and Policy Makers in Nigeria in Abuja.
The one-day workshop was put together by the IP First Group and Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation in Africa (AfrIPI) with support from European Union Intellectual Property Organisation and others.
According to her, industrial property legislation is a necessity to boost the country’s industry, trade and investment sector as it relates to the agricultural sector of the economy.
She said that the legislation would go a long way to enhancing and promoting President Muhammadu Buhari’s quest and desire to diversify the economy from oil to agriculture.
Similarly, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Nanono, said Agriculture was a vital sector of the Nigerian economy, in terms of food and nutrition security, trade and livelihood.
He added that it was also a key driver in the nation’s economy, which contributed about 21 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product in 2019 and still engages 70 per cent of the active labour force.
“The GIs coupled with a well-functioning intellectual property rights set-up, will assist in providing a pull effect that can improve productivity and competitiveness in the agricultural sector.
“This can then be used to support sustainable food systems and ultimately our economic diversification efforts.
“Identifying and developing these unique products originating from the various regions of the country under the GI initiative will aid in marketing these products within the domestic and international spaces.
“This is particularly so, as it serves to signal the consumers that a product has a special quality, reputation or other characteristics by virtue of its geographical location and origin,” Nanono said.
He explained that if GIs were properly harnessed, would also support the preservation of our biodiversity “that is facing an existential threat from effects of climate change and the attendant destruction of the environment.”
He maintained that it could assist in the commercialisation of the products of culture, thus enabling the value chain actors to benefit especially women and youth in the rural space who were mainly involved in production of these products.
“GIs can be catalytic in reviving the rural economy as we have seen it happen in the case of some products that have been properly branded such as Ofada Rice, Kilishi, Dudu Osun, etc.
“My ministry is ready to collaborate with FMITI, the AfriPI and other partners to enable our people and nation to benefit maximally from our GIs,” Nanono said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nanono was represented at the event by Hajiya Sugra Mahmood, the Deputy Director, Irrigation and Crop Development in the ministry.
Speaking, Mr Gregor Schnelder, AfriPI Deputy Team Leader and EU Representative on Geographical Indications said, GIs could be used as an agricultural tool to boost production in Africa.
Schnelder also stressed that GI could promote specific natural resources and reduce the inequality gap in the area of poverty.
Also, Mr John Clarke, the Director-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission said GI was also good for non-agricultural products.
According to him, GI provides protection for the quality of goods to prevent imitation in the market and also enhances the position of products in the markets.
“Nigerian has a great potential for GI. The country has Genger and many other products. We can help in creating the GI, awareness, training and cooperation for better enhancement”(NAN)