In Gruyere house in Switzerland, more than 170,000 tourists each year can watch live the making of unique cheeses with GI mark, and contribute to community development by buying products and souvenirs. A place with such experience-based tourism does not exist in Serbia, even though our country has protected more than 50 products, being ahead of Switzerland by this number.
This is one of the best practice examples presented at the first Swiss-Serbian Forum, organized by SEEDEV and NALED, with the support of Swiss Development Cooperation, demonstrating how products with geographical indication (GI) can act as the drivers of local and regional economy, small and medium enterprises, preserve the traditional production techniques and cultural heritage.
Around the world, there are 8,000 products with GI mark, in the area of agriculture and food only, of which nearly a half (3.900) are registered in Europe. The turnover of these products in European Union only surpasses the value of 55 billion euros a year, which accounts for 15% of European exports of food and drinks.
Leskovac ajvar, Užice prosciutto, Zlatar cheese, Pirot rug, Arilje raspberry, Bezdan lace, Sirogojno knitwear, Tekeriš towel and cutlery from Zlakusa, are only a part of the list of authentic food, handicrafts and crafts, whose development has been supported by the Government of Switzerland through numerous programs.
- Bearing in mind that the tradition and heritage of Serbian gastronomy are equally vital as the Swiss, we have been working to strengthen the visibility of GI products, better understanding of their market potential and quality management. Our support focuses on encouraging producers to jointly work on the promotion and placement of GI products, building their capacities and quality control of products – said Phillippe Guex, Swiss Ambassador in Serbia.
Vladan Vasić, member of NALED MB and the Mayor of Pirot, a city world-famous for the Pirot rug, yellow cheese and ironed sausage, highlighted that along with food, handicrafts can also be a valuable resource for local economic development.
- Handicrafts represent the second major source of revenue for farming households in the EU, and in order for Serbia to approach this result, there is a need for systemic support of the state and local governments t producers' associations, in terms of packaging, design and placement. Even 56% of associations highlighted that they need this support, while a half do not have their own space for work, and they look to their local governments for this support - added Vasić.
Products with geographical indication are a synonym not only for authenticity, but also quality. For 75% of our citizens, the GI mark is a confirmation that the ingredients used for preparation are exclusively from the indicated region, while 54% consider that the products were made in a traditional manner. A citizen opinion survey, performed right before the Forum, has also shown that the citizens most commonly buy GI products for their taste (69%), a confirmation of them being healthy (56%), the hand-made character (53%) and the desire to help the development of Serbian products (50%).
Promotional video about the products with geographical indication: