Update: 19:09 | 05/04/2021
(BGO) -The fact that Luc Ngan lychee (Bac Giang) was the first product officially granted a geographical indication (GI) certificate in Japan has opened up many new opportunities for the export and consumption of the Vietnamese fruit in many other markets. This also showed the role of intellectual property, which is considered a supporting tool for Vietnamese products to have more competitive advantages in export.
"Passport" for lychee to enter fastidious markets
In the joint statement during Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc's official visit to Japan in 2017, the Prime Ministers of the two countries affirmed their readiness to facilitate the implementation of procedures for the exports of Japanese orange and mandarin to Vietnam and Vietnamese lychee and longan to Japan, and promote cooperation in the GI protection.
Luc Ngan lychee became the first product of Vietnam officially granted a geographical indication certificate in Japan. File photo.
Since then, Luc Ngan lychee, Binh Thuan dragon fruit and Buon Ma Thuot coffee were the three products selected for GI registration in Japan within the framework of the cooperation agreement between the National Office of Intellectual Property under the Ministry of Science and Technology of Vietnam and the Food Industry Affairs Bureau under the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries to promote Vietnam's geographical indications to Japanese consumers.
As a demanding market with strict regulations on the protection of geographical indications, the registration of GI for Luc Ngan lychee in Japan was extremely complicated.
Dinh Huu Phi, Director of the National Office of Intellectual Property, said that the department provided support through two ways: completing the application for registration of GI protection that fully satisfied Japanese legal regulations and actively persuading agencies at all levels to accelerate the progress. This process took almost 2 years and was really difficult.
According to Nguyen Thanh Binh, Director of the Bac Giang provincial Department of Science and Technology, in order to speed up the progress and meet the set requirements, his department worked with central agencies and relevant units to focus on completing the criteria. Accordingly, it advised the provincial People’s Committee to allocate funds, take drastic measures and coordinate with reputable units and experts accepted by Japan to participate in certifying the factors such as laboratories and testing systems as meeting international standards.
With the engagement of many agencies, organizations and individuals, these difficulties were gradually resolved, helping to complete the necessary registration processes in line with the provisions of Japanese law. And on March 12, 2021, Luc Ngan lychee became the first product of Vietnam officially granted a geographical indication certificate in Japan.
Challenges after GI protection
However, the successful registration of geographical indication for Luc Ngan lychee in Japan is just the first step to create a competitive advantage for the product in the Japanese market. It will need more efforts from many parties, agencies at different levels and ministries for Luc Ngan lychee to continue to maintain and further expand its foothold in this fastidious market.
The announcement on Luc Ngan lychee in Bac Giang of Vietnam obtaining geographical indication protection in Japan.
Binh said that the management of Luc Ngan lychee geographic indication after protection will continue to be a big challenge for authorities and agencies at all levels, especially Bac Giang province. Annually, they have to make internal assessments of product quality according to the protected geographical indication criteria and regularly update them on the system for product purchasing partners to grasp.
In addition, in order to have good criteria, there must be good products and the most important thing is that people need to comply with the technical process in production to create products that both have a beautiful appearance and meet food hygiene and safety standards. Thus, the responsibility of producers must be raised as it decides on the product quality - the core factor to promote the value after the GI protection.
In the immediate future, the Bac Giang provincial Department of Science and Technology will focus on promoting lychee consumption by connecting central agencies, businesses and cooperatives which purchase and export lychee with gardeners. It is completing the dossier, through the Ministry of Science and Technology, to propose the Prime Minister recognize lychee as a national product in May 2021.
This year, lychee is forecast to enjoy a bumper crop thanks to favorable weather and farmers’ more experience and application of many new technological advances in intensive farming. In the 2021 crop, the lychee area of Bac Giang province is expected to reach about 28,000 ha (compared to 15,000 ha in 2020).
Not only the output is forecast to increase, but the quality and value of lychee will improve. Especially, the area of safe organic lychees meeting VietGAP and GlobalGAP standards continues to be expanded, accounting for about 60 percent of the total area. Obtaining geographical indication protection will also create favorable conditions for Luc Ngan lychee to be exported to Japan and expand its consumption in other markets.