The Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPhil) sees great potential in Cordillera heirloom rice and coffee for geographical indication (GI) under Philippine law.
The agency explains that both commodities are unique products where their quality, reputation or other characteristics are essentially attributable to the product’s territorial or the commodity’s unique environment condition, production practices and specific growth habitat, the essence of GI.
Atty. Jesus A. Ros, Director III of IPOPhil, explains GI can expand and promote the industry and strengthen market presence through branding and market linkage, boosting the promotion of the commodities.
IPOPhil, in partnership with the Department of Agriculture-Cordillera, taught the heirloom rice and coffee farmers from Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and Mt. Province of methods of commodity protection, importance and requirements.
However, Ros remarked that the GI law in the country is still under review in the Senate, adding that the information campaign is to inform and encourage farmers to prepare the requirements for the GI in order to have a smooth sailing application later.
Nevertheless, Atty. Ros assures the farmers there are still other ways in protecting their commodity, like, using Collective Mark and Trademark laws which protect and ensure the commodities’ value both for the producers’ and consumers’ benefits.
Currently, three provincial cooperatives of heirloom rice in the region are already protection under the Collective Mark while others are still being reviewed, and Ros urges the other coffee farmers to apply for this protection considering the coffee in the region had been nationally recognized as one of the best.
Jean-ai Lumas-e, Kalinga heirloom rice farmer, remarked that with the Collective Mark the producers are following strict regulations ensuring that the consumers are buying quality produce with the traditional practices being kept.
Aside from the region’s traditional rice and coffee, some of the commodities the IPOPhil is pushing for GI are the Guimaras mango, Davao pomelo, and T’nalak Tau Sebu (woven cloth) of Lake Sebu.
By Jenny M. Dayao