A new UNCTAD publication on Organic Fruit and Vegetables from the Tropics: Market, Certification and Production Information for Producers and International Trading Companies (UNCTAD/DITC/COM/2003/2) looks at how developing countries can enhance their production and export capacities in organic agriculture, a growing market in the industrial world that is expected to grow between 10-and-30% over the next five to 10 years. But organic production methods are not yet well established in tropical developing countries, and so far the largest share of emerging markets for organic products, especially high-quality organic fruit and vegetables, has gone to farmers in the North.
The export value for organic food in 2000 was approximately US$ 20 billion. Europe led, with sales of about US$ 9 billion, followed by the United States (US$ 8 billion) and Japan (US$ 1.5 billion).
But market entry for organic food is heavily restricted. The major challenge faced by many exporters of organic agro-food exports, particularly in least developed countries (LDCs), is to meet the sanitary, phytosanitary and technical requirements of importing countries. Rising consumer concerns in the affluent countries over the quality of organic food compound the difficulty of small farmers in meeting higher standards. The new UNCTAD publication thus recommends that developing countries implement food quality and safety programmes to strengthen their ability to protect and enhance brands and private labels, promote consumer confidence and conform to regulatory and market requirements. Intended for producers and trading companies from emerging markets, it looks at general aspects of organic farming in the tropics and subtropics, and studies the organic cultivation of such fruits and vegetables as guava, lychee, avocado, aubergine and watermelon. It contains information on market potential and conditions for access to European, American and Japanese markets for organic products; details of production and processing requirements and best management practices; and a list of useful addresses and contacts in the target markets.
Substantive contributions to the publication were made by the Forschungsinstitut für biologischen Landbau (FiBL), Institut für Marktökologie (IMO), Naturland and the Swiss Import Promotion Programme (SIPPO). The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) provided financial support.