Raising awareness of Geographical Indications in Indonesia through the Sumbawa Honey Fair

Written by Satryo Brodjonegoro, TCF Key Expert in Intellectual Property

The Indonesian Ministry of Law and Human Rights, specifically its Directorate General of Intellectual Property, has been trying to increase the number of registrations of Geographical Indications (GIs) in Indonesia in order to capitalise on the country’s abundance of well-known, unique natural products. It is the ministry’s responsibility to protect these natural products by establishing GI status for them, especially in the case of agricultural commodities that are unique and only grow in specific areas/regions/villages. Some 42 GIs have so far been registered in Indonesia and most of them are located in remote areas, which, if properly handled, could actually become drivers for self-sustained local community development. This would be in line with the President’s policy on how to develop communities living in border, remote and less developed areas/regions.

Despite the great potential offered by the registered GIs, society in general remain unaware of their economic and social advantages, and most people have no direct experience of their benefits. Instead, most people believe that it is difficult to register a GI.  Learning from the success stories of internationally registered GIs in commodities such as wines, spirits, agricultural products and foodstuffs, Indonesia needs to promote and register its own GIs at an international level, e.g. in the European Union, so that these products can enter and penetrate that market. GI products will receive proper recognition in regions where there is an awareness of, and regard for GIs. Domestically, GI products are not effectively protected and a lack of knowledge about what GI status actually means results in counterfeiting and violations of property rights. People are not yet reaping the real benefits of GI registration, and they do not realise that GI registration more than doubles the value of their product. Against this background, and in order to improve the global competitiveness of Indonesia, the EU-Indonesia Trade Cooperation Facility project (TCF) has been working with the Directorate General of Intellectual Property to provide support to increasing GI awareness and GI registrations, especially at the international level, by conducting a number of workshops and focus group discussions involving several GI experts from the EU as well as from Indonesia.

A key factor for a successful GI is the commitment of the local community to preserving and sustaining the local ecosystem, so that the GI product can continue to be produced uniquely in that particular area or region. GI product protection is effective, if the community can preserve and sustain the environmental conditions necessary to maintain the product’s specific quality or qualities. With this in mind, a Honey Fair was held in Sumbawa, the home of the Sumbawa Honey GI, to raise awareness of the benefits of GI status. Local people, farmers and officials gathered to discuss and exchange ideas on how to produce the best honey and, most importantly, Sumbawa honey. The farmers tend to be impatient, wanting to produce large volumes of honey but, if they are not careful, this could damage the ecosystem, reducing the quality of what is intended to be a unique product. Now they have learned that GI status is important both for the prosperity of the local community and in preventing environmental damage, thereby improving the quality of life of the local people. Now that Sumbawa honey has proven that it can provide prosperity to the local population, the next target is to promote Sumbawa honey internationally through an international GI registration. In this, the role of local government is important in encouraging local people to preserve and sustain the ecosystem.

For photos from the Sumbawa Honey Fair and the GI Awareness Raising event please click here