The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo, has called for the establishment of an enabling environment for the growth and expansion of the national geographical indications (GIs) to help Nigerian producers generate greater value for their products.

Adebayo made this call in Abuja, at the European Union (EU)-Nigeria Geographical Indication Conference, organised by the Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation in Africa (AFRIPI).

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The minister disclosed that 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, regretting that, currently over one-fifth of the amount is generated by exports that originate outside of the European Union.

According to the minister, geographical indication protection is not limited to agricultural produce but extends to a wide range of products including, handicrafts, industrial products and prepackaged personal care products to name a few.

He noted that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that Nigeria exports more finished goods, expressing optimism that the conference will go a long way in helping Nigeria establish an enabling environment for the growth and expansion of the national GI products.

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His words: “For many years, stakeholders from both the public and private sector in Nigeria have worked hard to promote and draw attention to geographical indications and other forms of intellectual property protection in 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 range 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 have rendered our unique products more vulnerable to misappropriation.

“Cultural misappropriation, which can be defined as the assumption or exploitation of one culture by a more dominant culture, is a concept that is now being discussed more openly and around which awareness is being raised.

“Africa for centuries has been on the losing end of this issue, and it is time for that to come to an end. 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.

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“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.”

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