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GIs: Varieties of unique agricultural products in Nigeria are yet to benefit from international recognition – Malami

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The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami says the panacea to boost export and drive economic growth in Nigeria is to diversify the economy and focus on development of the non-oil sector.

The minister who gave the indication at the just concluded National Conference on creating Legal and Institutional Frameworks for Geographical Indications(GIs)in Nigeria, noted that focusing on GIs will serve as a better solution to poverty and spur community development and social inclusiveness.

“The time has come to move away from oil economy. Surely, the time has come to embrace green economy through economic drive powered by geographical indications for which Nigeria is richly endowed in quality assets and products.

“Needless to state clearly that Geographical Indications represent economic opportunities in rural areas, leading to more rural jobs and stronger rural communities.

“The right to use a geographical name belongs to the community of producers in a given area and empowers those who are involved in the origin of so many wonderful products thereby making Geographic Indications the perfect tool for local development” the Attorney General explained.

Speaking on the importance of Legal framework to backing GIs, Malami wondered why varieties of unique agricultural products that qualify as geographical indications in Nigeria are yet to benefit from any comprehensive registration, international recognition and commercialization.

“Therefore, for Nigeria to avail itself of the opportunities in and benefits of its Geographic Indications, our efforts must begin at home, with the establishment of an appropriate legal framework, supported by robust efforts to promote the Geographic Indications in formalizing the traditional knowledge and techniques employed by originating geographic regions, standardizing methods of production, and actively driving recognition for Geographic Indications in international trade.
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“To be or not to be, depends on a carefully grafted legal and institutional frameworks that meets the needs of today while guaranteeing the future and bearing in mind, global and continental trends in the fields of geographical indications.

“The legal framework will set out the roles and procedures for the actualization of the benefits of geographical indications so that they shall be recognized and protected locally in order to be recognized internationally too.

According to Malami, “The establishment of a legal framework for the Gls in Nigeria is very imperative, likewise the ratification and domestication of the relevant international treaties/ conventions and protocols”.

Represented by the Director, Legal Drafting in the Ministry, Barrister Ifunanya Nwajagu, Malami affirmed that the ministry is poised to lend its support and collaboration with the stakeholders towards the birthing of a reliable legal instrument.

“The Federal Ministry of Justice awaits the drafting instructions from the organizers of this conference, as a team of drafters are available to review the Bill in line with our current precedent for Executive Bill for onward transmission to the Federal Executive Council,” he further assured”.

In a panel discussion, the Senior Assistant Registrar, Trade Marks Registry, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Aminu Waklek, believed that consensus is key to arrive at quality of products that could promote exports.

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