Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

by

Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director-General and
Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

delivered at the

Geographical Indications (GI)
Cook-off Dinner between Thai and French Chefs

Bangkok, Thailand
28 September 2013

 

Honorable Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, 
Your Excellency Mr Thierry Viteau, Ambassador of France,
Excellencies,
Ambssadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure to welcome you to this exciting evening this evening on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

I would first like to thank Your Excellency Mr Niwattumrong Boonsongpaisan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce of the Kingdom of Thailand for agreeing to open this event. I also wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to Mr. Thierry Viteau, Ambassador of France for the close  partnership in organizing this fantastic event.  

On the occasion of “C’est bon!,” the French foodies week in Bangkok, the FAO, the French Embassy in Thailand, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Department of the Intellectual Property of the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand have partnered to organize important and exciting events to emphasize and promote the development of Geographical Indications (GI) often referred to as Appellation d’origine in France. It is a sign of quality for food and agriculture products and a tool for rural development.

FAO considers geographically differentiated products such a vital niche market and a good way of ensuring food security and sustainable agricultural development. GI is an important value-added instrument for the food and agriculture sectors, helping producers to make the switch from quantitative to qualitative strategies and increase opportunities in existing and new markets. Indeed, marketing such value-added products contributes to food security by generating income and providing money for food, education, healthcare and other basic needs.

During the past two decades the interest in the enhanced protection of GI has grown considerably worldwide and in Asia in particular.

Thailand is now seen as a regional reference point regarding GI dynamism with 50 GIs registered, having also gained international recognition in early 2013 with its first GI registration in the European Union for Khao Hom Mali Thung Kula Rong-Hai – Hom Mali Rice, as well as being awarded GI protection for handicrafts such as Lamphun Brocade Thai Silk.

The GI system is developing rapidly, representing an important instrument for trade, rural development, protection of know-how and tourism.

FAO and AFD are now launching a project to boost rural development by promoting Geographical Indications in Thailand and also in the in Southeast Asia region.

This 3-year project, with a budget of more than US$-2 million, in cooperation with stakeholders in Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam, will further GI protection increasing the income of small farmers through the development of GI value chains, improved market access and increased recognition of GI by consumers.”

During this evening’s unique GI cook-off dinner, acclaimed Thai and French Chefs are going to help raise awareness of GI product quality by using Thai and French GI products to cook their innovative dishes. I thank them for that.

Tonight is also an opportunity to launch the “ASIA GI Ambassador initiative.” Beginning tonight ASIAN GI Ambassadors will be appointed to reach out to the public and help Asian GI producers attract public attention so they can benefit from new market opportunities.

Without further ado, I wish you all a tasty and enjoyable GI evening.