Regional seminar on rural development and agricultural and food quality linked to geographicalorigin in Asia: lessons and perspectives
8 – 11 June 2009, Bangkok - Thailand
Background and rationale
Some agricultural and food products are distinguished from one another by certain characteristics, qualities or reputations resulting essentially from their geographical origin. This differentiation can be attributed to the unique local features of the product, its history or its distinctive character linked to natural or human factors such as soil, climate, local know-how and traditions. Generally, these characteristics are already recognized to some extent by consumers at local, national or even international level.Asian countries all demonstrate a food culture which has been elaborated over time with agriculture and food systems developing alongside human civilizations in the various agro-ecological zones of the region. As such, the concept of food quality linked to its origin is very natural to most Asian consumers. Many Asian agricultural products have even developed an international reputation for quality linked to their origin; for example, Darjeeling Tea from India, Boloven Coffee from the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Longjing Tea from China, Thai silk, Phu Quoc Fish Sauce from Viet Nam, Kobe Beef from Japan, Korean Ginseng, etc. These products of origin-linked quality can increase food security, inasmuch as they contribute to rural development and the preservation of food diversity, while also offering consumers a wider choice. Indeed, thanks to the link between such products and their areas of origin, they can help to preserve natural resources, maintain traditions, strengthen the organization of local stakeholders and prevent delocalization and rural exodus. Thanks to their recognized reputation, these products of origin-linked quality can also be the focus of local and international marketing chains, the actors of which try to beneÿt from the added value intrinsically contained in the product itself. As for other types of speciÿc quality, such as those connected with organic farming or fair-trade, consumers must be able to recognize the specific nature of the product through information, designation or labelling. Therefore, the institutional platforms developed by the industry stakeholders and their governments to monitor and protect the quality and intellectual propriety of their origin-linked products are a particularly important element of success of all development initiatives around agricultural and food quality linked to geographical origin.
Objectives and outputs
This regional seminar is convened to share information on the current status of rural development and agricultural and food quality linked to geographical origin in Asia as the countries in the region have chosen different institutional options to manage this speciÿc quality scheme. The seminar will also discuss best practices for the Asian region in their implementation at national and local levels. The first three days of the seminar will feature a technical consultation of experts by invitation only. Participants will come from government, the private sector, certifiers, NGOs, and industry organizations to share their experience and expertise of managing quality of agricultural and food products that are linked to a geographical origin. The consultation means to raise awareness of the potentials, drawbacks and procedures to implement management systems of agricultural and food quality linked to geographical origin in Asia. To achieve this, the participants will work on policy recommendations and action plans on how best to support the actors of Asian agrifood supply chains who wish to link their products to their geographical origin and traditional know-how. The recommendations from the experts will be presented to high-level decision makers on Thursday 11 June during a conference open to the public and press. High-profile discussants will voice their viewpoint on these recommendations. Media coverage of the event will also contribute to raise public awareness about the consultation’s results and on the concept of agricultural and food quality linked to geographical origin.