Sri Lanka’s application to the European Union for a protected geographical indication for Ceylon cinnamon has succeeded. The application, developed with the technical support of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 22 June 2020 and received a favourable decision from the European Commission on 2 February 2022.
Geographical indications (GI) can be applied to products with a specific geographical origin and a reputation – a given quality or other characteristics of a product essentially attributable to it. A successful application protects a product against misuse or imitation of the registered name and guarantee its true origin to customers. All producers in the given geographical area have collective rights over the product, as long as certain requirements are met.
GI are a tool linking quality-related parameters to traceability and can catalyzing collective action of and connectivity between value chain actors, which are necessary pre-conditions to effectuating food safety and quality.
Sri Lanka’s The Spice Council (TSC), Export Development Board (EDB), National Intellectual Property Office of Sri Lanka (NIPO) and other cinnamon industry stakeholders, now represented by the Ceylon Cinnamon Geographical Indication Association (CCGIA), developed the Ceylon cinnamon GI in the framework of a four-year, EUR €8m UNIDO project funded by the European Union.
B. Sarada De Silva, Founder and Chairperson of The Spice Council and the Cinnamon Training Academy, said, “UNIDO worked closely with the cinnamon industry to digitalize the cinnamon value chain and modernize the supporting quality infrastructure. A realization of this was a traceability system that reinforces compliance with GI product specifications. Not only are cinnamon processors qualified via the Cinnamon Training Academy to implement GI, they are also able to demonstrate quality compliance using this system. Sri Lanka is now poised to benefit from the Ceylon brand value in the world cinnamon market. We look forward to continuing these heroic efforts with UNIDO for other Sri Lankan products.”
The collective efforts mobilized under this GI framework are expected to facilitate gains in market share, command a premium on quality-differentiated products that apply this GI scheme, stimulate investment in the cinnamon industry, and generate socioeconomic returns for integrated supply chain actors.
The initiative is expected to have a beneficial impact on poverty reduction and inclusive economic diversification as workers in the informal sector, particularly women and youth, are absorbed into productive jobs in the formal sector (e.g. on-farm and value-addition activities). Positive spill-overs from intersectoral linkages, such as with processed food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and tourism, are also expected to stimulate employment.
The recently concluded UNIDO project aimed to facilitate Sri Lanka’s inclusive, trade-led growth and regional integration. In a subsequent EU-funded project, “Mainstreaming Standards-Based Best Practices for Agri-Food Sector Development,” UNIDO will continue to strengthen Sri Lanka’s trade support institutions and the private sector, with the aim of propelling the quality reputation and traceability of other products.