Geographical location could market your product

“These pineapples are from Bugerere, this coffee is from the slopes of Mt Elgon and these oranges are from Soroti!” A market vendor successfully gets you to shop at her stall by announcing that every item she carries is from the part of the country where it is believed to grow best.

Does anyone outside Uganda make the same associations between Ugandan produce and Ugandan locations? Linking unique products to the geographic area where they grow and or are manufactured is a strategy that may be used to successfully position a product and differentiate it from competitors.

Adding value
Product names linked to geographic locations are a form of valuable intellectual property known as a geographical indication (GI). Do you andor the farmers in your area grow high quality products that show truly unique features owing to the soil and climate in the area? If yes, all of you could be missing out on the additional value that a GI adds to a product.

Basmati Rice, Darjeeling Tea, Rooibos Tea and Scotch Whiskey are examples of how other countries have successfully used geographical indications to create successful products that are sold all over the world. Basmati Rice for instance, only grows in a specific geographic area of India and Pakistan in the Himalayan Mountain foothills.

It is described as a top quality, slender, aromatic, long grained, nutty tasting and delicately textured rice. Those unique product features are a result of the soils and climate on the Himalayan foothills. Rice grown anywhere else does not fit the description and can never be called basmati rice. This puts basmati rice in an enviable position.

Could Bugerere pineapples, Mt. Elgon coffee and Soroti oranges be examples of Ugandan items with unique features, not found anywhere else in the world? Could the pineapples be for instance, the juiciest in the world and have the highest concentrations of Vitamin C and Potassium ever recorded anywhere?

Geographical location
If yes, Uganda is ignoring the opportunity to use geographic location to both promote and protect its unique items. Pineapple growers are letting the opportunity that GI represents pass them by.

Suppose it was established that Bugerere pineapples – or any other items – were indeed of the highest quality and were like no other product in that category anywhere in the world due to soil and climate conditions in that part of Uganda what should be done to secure a GI?

Pineapple farmers in Bugerere would need to:
1. Organise themselves into a society, cooperative or association.
2. Determine the association rules, regulations and standards.
3. Develop long and short term strategies and plans for the management of Bugerere pineapples.
4. Approach the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (http:www.ursb.go.ug) for further guidance.

If you farm in an area that is known for growing the best of a particular crop contact URSB for more detailed information on GIs. You could be missing out on an opportunity to help increase farmer competitiveness.

E-mail: dorothy_tuma@dmtconsultants.net

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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