Database of species, products can bring Bangladesh GI bonanza

Dhaka,  Sun,  24 September 2017
Published : 17 Aug 2017, 00:39:38

Database of species, products can bring Bangladesh GI bonanza

TRIPS of WTO secure its right to cash in on unique items
Yasir Wardad

Bangladesh has yet to build a comprehensive database of species and traditional products that promise it huge Geographical Indication (GI) benefits under global trade regimes.

The country has enacted the GI Act (Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) 2013 and already claimed products like Jamdani Sari and Hilsa as exclusively its own products.

But experts said the country needs a complete inventory of its species of animal or plant, which is very crucial for claiming and securing products under one's own GI.

Article 22, 23 and 24 of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)'s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) grant countries the right to protect and patent famous, exceptional and extraordinary products as their own GI.

Bangladesh enacted GI a decade after neighbouring India had done.

Md Azizur Rahman, Director-General of the Intellectual Property Association of Bangladesh (IPAB), said enactment of the GI now enables Bangladesh to claim products like Jamdani and Hilsa as its own, whose proper branding would bring huge benefits for the country.

"But the country should have a comprehensive database of species of animal and plant and also of famous, exceptional and extraordinary products to take advantage of GI," he said.

"This database could help the ministries, departments and businesses concerned to register our own products as GI."

He cited India as an example. India has prepared a comprehensive record of species titled 'Wealth of India' and involved the local government, concerned ministries and educational institutions in this scientific process.

The record was completed in 1999 and India enacted the GI law the same year in right earnest.

The country has registered 200 products as its GI since 1999, including Nakshikantha, Jamdani and Fazli mango which are Bangladesh's traditional products.

The database and timely enactment of GI law gave the country such advantage, he said.      

He said, "Brridhan-28 is mostly produced rice variety in Bangladesh. Farmers in West Bengal in India also use the seed but call it 'Ratna' rice."

"So, how could we make our rice variety as our unique product if it is not recorded?" He questioned.

Department of Patent, Design and Trademark (DoPDT) registrar Md Sanwar Hossain told the FE that registering a product as the country's own GI builds up image of the items and the country both.

He said they now have 71 products in the pipeline, including Fazli mango and silk sari from Rajshahi, and Harivanga mango from Rangpur to be registered.

Md Ziaul Haque, director of the Department of Environment (DoE), said the ministry publishes a database under its project 'biodiversity safety programme of action 2020'.

"Earlier, we have had an encyclopedia of flora and fauna which was made from secondary information jointly by the government and private organisations," he said.

But the recent information under the biodiversity-safety programme is primary info which could help policymakers concerned to proceed on GI, he said.

However, organisations like IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) also publish inventory of species annually, he said.

General Secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, an environment-rights organisation, Dr M A Matin said data are urgently needed for biodiversity which has a direct relation to food security, climate change and population.

"Implementation of a biodiversity-friendly, sustainable management is impossible without correct information of species," he said.

However, experts put especial emphasis on research involving ministries concerned and private sector to make an inclusive database of species and traditional products of Bangladesh.
Editor : A.H.M Moazzem Hossain
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