The Federal government has commended the European Union and European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in particular, for funding the Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation in Africa (AfriPi project), in order to intensify campaign to increase the exportation of unique products from Nigeria.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Otunba Adebayo gave the commendation at the National Conference on Creation of Legal and Institutional Framework for Geographical Indications.

According to him, “the AfriPI Project has gone a long way in supporting African companies, creators and inventors to generate value from their intellectual property.

“Nigeria has a strategic ambition to position itself as a major supply chain partner to key off-taker nations.
Geographical indications will play a major role in helping Nigerian producers generate greater value for their products.

“Agri-food and drink products which have names that are protected by the European Union as geographical indications represent a sales value of about €75 billion.

“Currently over one fifth of this amount Is generated by exports that originate outside of the European Union. This presents a huge opportunity for indigenous exporters who can now capitalize on improved product reputation and the willingness of consumers to pay a premium for authentic products”.

Otunba restated the government’s commitment to adding value to goods before that are exported in order to reduce imbalance created by exporting raw products.

“The Federal Government is committed to ensuring that Nigeria exports more finished goods and this conference will go a long way in helping Nigeria establish an enabling environment for the growth and expansion of our national GI products” Adebayo stated.

He said “many potential Nigerian GIs originate in rural areas that are challenged by extreme poverty and socio-economic issues. Studies have established that the sales value of products associated with GIs is on average, twice that of similar products.

Geographical indications provide opportunities for some of Nigeria’s most impoverished areas to participate in the exportation of non-oil products, earn fair compensation and drive much needed development.

“As all the stakeholders here are aware, geographical indication protection is not limited to agricultural produce but extends to a wide range of products including, handcrafts, industrial products and prepackaged personal care products to name a few.

Also speaking, Head of European Union Intellectual Property, Ignacio Medrano alluded to the fact that Nigeria already has specific products with quality.

Medrano said, “We are here to support the country to establish legal framework, to establish protection for agricultural products with specific link to tradition and culture.

“We are convinced that here in Nigeria, with the protection of the Geographical Indications, there will be increase in agricultural product price, export and tourism” he said.

The National Coordinator of the National Technical Working Group, Sam Mba Kalu said Geographical Indication, even though relatively new in Nigeria, remains the hope for the common man to be able to promote his or her product to the global market.

He said every geographical indication is premium products which ensure that individual products are protected to ensure that the farmer get value for his products.

“Every product under geographical indication has a stamp of origin on it to ensure that such product are not lost to other countries. For example, we have seen it in Campodia, what geographical indication will do to put money back to the pocket of the people that own the products from day one which means their products are protected.
“In other countries, geographical indication is supported by the government to ensure that the farmer produce and process their products to standard, this is where government has to come in through the legal framework to support farmers so that they can get value for their products”, he said.
He further state the benefits of geographical indication, especially as it affects Nigeria.

“The benefits obtainable from geographical indications in Nigeria are immense. Nigeria Is one of the most culturally diverse societies in the world.
We can boast of a wide variety of products that can be classified as GI.

“These ranges from the popular Ijebu garri to Nsukka Yellow Pepper, the Sokoto Red Skin Goat and the famous Yauri Onions. Unfortunately, poor knowledge of geographical Indications and the absence of a specific legal framework has rendered our unique products more vulnerable to misappropriation”.