Organic agriculture offers an impressive array of economic, food security, environmental, social and health benefits for developing countries. While domestic markets for organic products in developing countries are growing, the vast majority of certified organic products are exported to developed countries, particularly in Europe and North America.
Demand for organically grown produce in supermarket shelves as well as in the food processing and catering industry has been rapidly expanding in recent past. In fact, this is currently the most dynamic growth segment of total global demand for organic produce.
As many of the buyers in these markets are either members of GLOBALGAP or apply the GLOBALGAP requirements, there is increasing interest to demand that organic producers also meet the requirements of GLOBALGAP (aimed at ensuring consistent application of Good Agricultural Practices with a particular focus on health and safety of fresh produce). This results in double inspection and certification requirements and potential loss of market for many organic farmers, particularly small-scale farmers. For traders and retailers and other buyers of organic produce, the costs and difficulties of sourcing doubly certified products leads to higher costs, reduced range of products and increased risk of supply interruptions.
There is some common ground between GLOBALGAP and organic agriculture objectives and requirements. Building on that common ground to reduce certification costs would help all parties concerned.
With this in mind, the UNCTAD secretariat commissioned a study that compares the EU organic agriculture requirements (as a representative organic guarantee system) with those of GLOBALGAP for fruit and vegetables.
The study provides a sound springboard for discussions at the Ad-hoc Expert Meeting on Facilitating Access of Small Organic Farmers in Developing Countries to Supermarket Shelves, organized by UNCTAD in collaboration with the secretariats of GLOBALGAP (Food Plus GmbH) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
The meeting will bring together representatives of all key stakeholder groups, including producers from around the world, traders, retailers, standard setters and certification bodies to discuss:
- Practical experiences in production and sales of doubly certified products
- The findings of the comparative study.
- Practical options for achieving partial equivalence between GLOBALGAP and organic certification systems or other arrangements to streamline the certification process at the scheme level for dual certifications.
- A roadmap of activities for further development and implementation of such a scheme (e.g. further analysis, field testing and operationalization of equivalence approaches).
The meeting is open to all member States of UNCTAD. Member states, specialized agencies and intergovernmental bodies wishing to participate in the meeting, as well as non-governmental organizations in the General Category and those in the Special Category wishing to participate as observers, are requested to inform the UNCTAD secretariat of the names of their representatives by 1 December 2009.
All experts are encouraged to prepare and submit brief papers related to the meeting´s topic, including practical experiences in production, trade and sourcing of doubly (GlobalGAP and organic) certified products and ideas on options to facilitate market entry of these product in the future. These papers will be made available at the meeting in the form and language in which they are received.