Protocol jungle hampers organic exports
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CTA. 2001. Protocol jungle hampers organic exports. Spore 94. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46247
Internet URL: http://spore.cta.int/images/stories/pdf/old/spore94.pdf
Organic farming in ACP countries is reportedly spreading fast. It fits well into farmers low input strategies and renders extra income if it can be sold as organic produce. If indeed, because, for exports to countries of the European Union,...
Organic farming in ACP countries is reportedly spreading fast. It fits well into farmers low input strategies and renders extra income if it can be sold as organic produce. If indeed, because, for exports to countries of the European Union, official certification is required. This prerequisite is often too expensive for individual farmers. Smallholder group certification could be an alternative, provided that participants install adequate internal control systems. This means that farmer groups do a large part of the inspection themselves, and an external certification body evaluates this internal system. These organisations, however, use different criteria to assess performances, as do individual importing countries. It was to foster mutual recognition of procedures that a workshop was organised under the auspices of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements and the Fair Trade Labelling Organisations during the Biofach 2001 in March 2001 in Nuremberg, Germany. Certification bodies, importers, government authorities and farmers associations underscored the need for more clarity and uniformity and committed themselves to arrive at uniform definitions and procedures. Boudewijn van den Elzakker, president of the International Organic Accreditation Services Inc. (IOAS), welcomes the result but stresses that it will take time for African produce to effectively enter the European market. African governments first have to draw up national standards. Once put in place, governmental organisations have to be able to control compliance to these standards, an important European condition. In addition, national platforms with important stakeholders - farmers, certification bodies, retailers should be set up that trace and tackle bottlenecks in the entire sector. Some people could try to work as a local inspector of an established international certification body and eventually start an independent accredited new one. Egypt is currently the only African country with local certifiers accredited by IOAS. In the end, every country and exporter has to overcome European regulations and procedures. 'In brief,' Van den Elzakker warns, 'becoming a standing exporter in organic products is a troublesome process that will take at least 10 years. A uniform protocol on smallholder group certification would facilitate it for sure.' IFOAM Head Office c/o Ökozentrum Imsbach, D-66636 Tholey-Theley, Germany Fax: +49 68 53 919 899