By Petchanet Pratruangkrai
Pajchima Tanasanti, director-general of the Intellectual Property Department, yesterday said that after two years of trying to win GI recognition in the EU, the product should soon be accepted, resulting in greater protection within the EU by the end of the year.
"After the EU certifies the GI right for Hom Mali Thung Kula Ronghai, it will add value to the product in the EU market and in international markets, so Thai farmers will enjoy higher income," she said.
If the product gets approval from Brussels, it will be the first Southeast Asian product to obtain GI certification from the EU.
It will also be the third non-EU product globally, after Indian tea and Colombian coffee, to receive such protection and recognition.
Last year, Khao Hom Mali Thung Kula Ronghai failed to gain greater protection and recognition in the EU after five of its member states opposed granting the fragrant rice GI rights.
The UK, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium cited that Thailand could not use the phrase "Khao Hom Mali", and questioned whether the rice was packed in a specific area.
However, following this setback, the Intellectual Property Department pressed its case with the EU, insisting that Thai Khao Hom Mali Thung Kula Ronghai should be awarded GI certification since it can grow only in a specific area and is packed in the growing area only in order to prevent grain combination.
The department is scheduled to hold a meeting with concerned EU agencies this Friday to wrap up the results of GI certification, Pajchima added.
Jasmine rice grown in the Thung Kula Ronghai area, a plateau covering five provinces in the Northeast – Roi Et, Maha Sarakham, Si Sa Ket, Yasothon and Surin – yields a special glutinous consistency and sweet-scented aroma.
Pajchima said that after receiving GI certification for the jasmine rice, the department would seek similar accreditation for Doi Chang and Doi Tung coffee – two well-known coffee varieties made from beans cultivated in the hills of Chiang Rai – and for Sung Yod rice from Phatthalung in the South.