THE Mindanao Collective Trademark (MCT), an initiative of the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), European Union, public and private stakeholders, among others, is set to be launched on June 20 at Park Inn by Radisson in Lanang, Davao City.

MCT is envisioned to promote Mindanao’s quality products through carrying a collective mark as a sign signifying the product’s quality as certified according to recognized global Voluntary Standards (VS).

“The collective trademark is expected to give, especially our Mindanao’s Micro, Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) better opportunities and market leveraging in the local, regional and international trade. This endeavor is in line with the government’s overall efforts to achieve economic development, inclusive growth and poverty reduction in Mindanao and in the Philippines,” Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, Minda’s chairperson said.

With the official launching of MCT, formal organization and finalization of the structure of MCT based on the results of the consultations will be undertaken.

Also, finalization of the VS that will be included in MCT is expected to be laid out on the launching. Some of the emerging VS during the conduct of series of consultations and training-workshops late last year and early this year are Global Gap, Organic, MSC, Hala, Fairtrade, among others.

Voluntary standards are established usually by a private-sector body, the standard setting organization. It will available for use by any company or organization which are willing to comply with the standards.

During the launch, the European Union Ambassador to the Philippines, Franz Jessen Ambassador will be the keynote speaker in light of the assistance provided by the EU-PH Trade Related Technical Assistance Project 3 for Minda to establish MCT.

“Minda was able to develop the protocols of the MCT System and currently implementing steps in installing the system with the help of EU-TRTA3, the launching will also serve as the venue to demonstrate the fruit of our partnership as well as to express our gratitude to the European Union,” Antonino said.

In a validation meeting last February of this year, stakeholders recommended that a Knowledge Center shall be established and its experts and secretariat shall be trained.

A Knowledge Center on voluntary standards and Best management practices, which will be housed, managed and financed by Minda will “provide support to the private sector in adapting their management practices to standards set out in a selected number of VS and to prepare them (through pre-auditing) for auditing and certification.”

Also part of the recommendations is to anchor the MCT system into law, a long term plan for MCT.

For a company to be allowed to use the trademark, one must inscribe with the Knowledge center, specify which Voluntary standard and prove production in the island, put in management practices as assisted by the KC until pre-audit and lastly be audited and certified by a third party certifier.

“Part of our greater strategies as exporters are bringing more producers to practice Global Gap, for instance, with this we will have to be very competitive, we have to keep up competition or else we will be left behind,” Philexport executive director, Edwin H. Sotto said in a previous report.

TRTA3 team leader Doctor Florian Albro, for his part said that aligning globally recognized standards in the Mindanao’s products is a change in paradigm not only by the exporters and big companies but also with the small and medium farmers.

At present, the products and commodities that were identified that have competitive advantage are tropical fruits, rice, coconut (in particular coconut water and VCO), rubber, abaca, fish (Tuna, Sardines),cacao, sea-weed, and handicraft products.