16 December, 2008

Geographical indications for Kenyan coffee

The current issue of WIPO magazine carries an article on some famous appellation of origin (a special kind of geographical indication (GI) consisting of a geographical name used on products which essentially derive certain quality or characteristic from the geographical region). The article gives examples of products such as the Parma ham from Italy, Tequila from Mexico and Feta cheese from Greece, which are identified by consumers using their geographical names.

Closer home and as reported in the Daily nation here, a seminar on GI sponsored by the French Embassy was held last week in Nairobi. The report indicates that in order to raise demand and possibly raise prices for Kenyan coffee in the international market the Government with the assistance of France plans to brand coffee according the respective regions of origin.

From French experience, the process of obtaining a geographical indication is long, first involving detailed scientific tests of the regions to demonstrate their uniqueness that gives rise to the distinctiveness of the products from those regions. Moreover, the relevant bodies need to be set up to administer the system and control use of the GI.

From the report, it appears that certain studies have already been undertaken in Nyeri and Kirinyaga districts where 178 samples were tested for their intensity, aroma, bitterness, acidity and other qualities. In addition, the legal framework is being worked out, and a draft Geographical Indications Bill is in the pipeline.

Previous post on GI branding for tea here

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