For the love of cloves

Being a keen fan of herbs and spices in the kitchen, I have followed the efforts to protect the Zanzibar Clove with great interest. I was therefore very pleased to see the enthusiasm of the Tanzanian locals surrounding the future of the project in a recent WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) video.

Zanzibar’s spice trade was formerly recognised in a collaborative project between WIPO, the ICT (International Trade Centre) and the Republic of Tanzania. Since November 2012 these bodies have worked together on a strategy, aiming to develop the region’s cloves as a Geographical Indication (GI) and to turn around their once low export levels of this fragrant product.

A GI requires that at least one element of the production, processing or preparation of a product from a particular area needs to take place within that locality, and furthermore, the qualities should be attributable to that place.

A GI will help to show the quality associated with the Zanzibar clove, adding value to the clove’s specific characteristics. By adding value to the goods in this way, GI’s can help to boost an economy as it gives consumers confidence of quality through brand recognition. It also protects the registration of regional foods, by stopping other traders from misleading the public into wrongly associating a product with a particular area.

The right may be used by any producers who comply with the conditions of production contained within the specification, not just by the applicant. Therefore, many communities in Zanzibar benefit from the rising awareness and protection that this GI affords.

Locals seem very positive about the branding. They view their cloves as a valuable resource; contributing to 17% of their GDP, and they are exported internationally. The processes behind clove production are no light matter; skilled workers climb trees of 15 feet high in hot temperatures to get to the cloves, and therefore, a lot of work goes into their production.

As a result of such a positive branding opportunity through the efforts of WIPO and the ICT, Zanzibar is now looking towards more branding opportunities for its other spices which also reflect upon the cultures and traditions.

So next time you’re at the supermarket scanning the spice racks, you’ll realise that there’s more to trade marks than a word mark or a logo mark, it can also be protective of an area and build on local profit for hard working communities.

WIPO are also working on projects to create awareness and protection for the Tanzanian Arabica coffee and Ugandan Cotton projects.

(The video referred to earlier can be viewed here).

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