EU Ambassador to Cameroon hosts ceremony to celebrate the registration of ‘Poivre de Penja’ as the first protected GI from the OAPI region
On 17 March 2022, the European Commission registered Cameroon’s ‘Poivre de Penja’ as the first protected geographical indication (PGI) from the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) region, and the second from Africa. This announcement, contained in the Official Journal of the EU, comes at the end of a 17-month application process, during which the African Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation Project (AfrIPI), in cooperation with OAPI, supported the Poivre de Penja Producers Association to fulfil the conditions required to obtain European recognition.
Subsequently, on 22 March 2022, the EU Ambassador to Cameroon, H.E. Philippe Van Damme, hosted a ceremony to celebrate this registration and to hand over copies of the GI certificate to the Association of Producers of Poivre de Penja. The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development; the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock; the Minister of Trade, the OAPI Director General, and other development partners.
“Today Cameroon is a pillar in the field, and I see other products lining up for certification. It is my wish that the fruitful cooperation that we see between the many actors in this field will continue in the future to the greatest benefit of Cameroonian farmers, African farmers, and consumers both Cameroonian and European,” Philippe Van Damme, EU Ambassador to Cameroon said in his speech.
The GI certificate gives a legal ground to GI producers to protect the name and ultimately helps to guarantee that local value creation and addition can be sustained. It improves the investment potential of regions and encourages fair distribution of value along the supply chain, especially for primary producers.
Cameroon’s Minister of Agriculture, Gabriel Mbairobe saluted the development as a major step towards mechanisation of agriculture in the country. “Cameroon is in a phase of mutation of its agriculture towards a second-generation agriculture. The registration of Cameroonian agricultural products as protected Geographical Indications contributes and participates in this important step in the process of modernisation of our agriculture,” he said.
‘Poivre de Penja’ has been grown on the volcanic soils of Mount Kupe in the Penja municipality of the Littoral Region of Cameroon since the 1950s. It was the first GI to be recognised by OAPI in September 2013. Its cultivation is the main activity of local farmers, who apply traditional methods in harvesting this tropical peppercorn renowned for its unique seasoning qualities and lingering flavours. It is considered one of the best and most highly regarded peppercorns in global cuisine.
“A pride of penja pepper producers, this GI is part of the heritage of Cameroon. The fame of our product exposes us to several challenges: counterfeiting, fraud, and insecurity in our plantations. This recognition will permit us to be more efficient on the commercial level and to represent all the producers, no matter their size”, stated René Claude Metomo, president of the association of Penja Pepper Producers.
It is therefore necessary to persevere to ensure the full success of ‘Poivre de Penja’ so that it can serve as an example and commitment so that other African products of quality can follow and commit to the note of reconnaissance in the years to come.