Every area in Thailand has a local product to offer that is outstanding and unique. Do you know that the Department of Intellectual Property has specified a Geographical Indication (GI) logo for products with geographically distinctive quality?
Geographical Indication (GI)
The GI logo is issued by the Department of Intellectual Property to the producer, certifying the product’s registered origin. The purpose is to establish the quality criteria and enhance credibility in terms of quality and standards, as well as create trust among consumers and related parties.
One example of a gold-tier GI product is Ban Huay Hom wool-blend cotton. The origin of Ban Huay Hom wool-blend cotton from Mae La Noi district, Mae Hong Son province, dates back to 1957 when a missionary came to the area and helped improve the locals’ weaving skills by weaving wool into cotton, giving rise to ‘wool-blend cotton’. 14 years later, Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother graciously visited Ban Huay Hom village and expressed the wish to promote this type of fabric. Local agencies were ordered to assist in sheep breeding and experts from Australia were invited to work on genetic improvement. Also, the ‘Wool-blend Cotton Women Weaver Group’ was set up, with 51 members. The key identity was the locally grown cotton woven using the backstrap loom, and the legacy has been preserved until today. The role of the Faculty of Agriculture is providing assistance in creating a system for quality and Thai GI standards control, and the initiative has already been approved by the vice governor of Mae Hong Son.
Assist. Prof. Dr. Nathitakarn Phayakka, from the Department of Agricultural Economy and Development, Faculty of Agriculture, Chiang Mai University, was appointed by the Department of Intellectual Property as the expert responsible for supervision, inspection system creation and quality assessment. A local expert in this star product also acted as a consultant to the team and the researchers.
The role of the Faculty of Agriculture, CMU in the GI registration of Ban Huay Hom wool-blend cotton
Dr. Nathitakarn has explained that the GI registration process is complex, starting from the farmer submitting the application to the local provincial Office of Commercial Affairs along with academic evidence proving the product’s distinctiveness and strong points. After that, the Office of Commercial Affairs will forward the application to the Department of Intellectual Property, and the Department of Intellectual Property will contact experts for assessment. The examination process can take a long time and the period of validation is two years. Once the permit expires, the producer shall repeat the process all over again. Throughout the two-year period of the GI logo use, the producer or the manufacturer must follow the manual strictly. Producers or manufacturers who do not file for the GI registration may not use the logo.
The GI logo yields benefits for producers and buyers alike, as the GI-registered products are subject to strict scrutiny and the logo cannot be used without permission. Buyers of GI products may rest assured that what they get is indeed a locally made product. The GI logo is a valuable addition to local products, showcasing the unique and irreplicable quality.