Organic agriculture offers a wide range of economic, environmental, social, health and
cultural benefits for developing countries. It is a powerful tool for achieving the Millennium
Development Goals, particularly those related to poverty alleviation and environment. For
these reasons, organic agriculture was selected as one of the three thematic areas to be addressed in the framework of the UNEP-UNCTAD Capacity Building Taskforce on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF).
In 2005, after a year of consultations and preparatory activities, the CBTF launched the
project "Promoting Product on and Trading Opportunities for Organic Agricultural Products
in East Africa". Benefiting Kenya, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, the project
comprises a number of background studies on key issues such as best practices for organic
policy, national integrated assessments of organic agriculture, and regional cooperation,
including development of an East Africa Organic Standard. Since 2006, Burundi and Rwanda have joined regional activities.
Partnership is the key feature of this project. At the international level, CBTF has joined
forces with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) to support project activities. At national level, regular multi-stakeholder meetings and public-private sector dialogue are creating synergies and dynamism in the sector. At regional level,
public-private sector dialogue is reinforced and ideas exchanged on the best way to move
forward at national and regional level. The "East Africa Organic Team", comprising all those committed to the development of the sector, grows stronger by the day.
This "kick off" study was commissioned in 2005 by the CBTF as a foundation for subsequent
project activities. The study´s major aim was to present a "snapshot" of the status of Organic
Agriculture in East Africa as seen in mid-2005. To take this picture, Alastair Taylor of Agro
Eco Uganda Branch was asked to bring together different country snapshots as presented
primarily by the lead organic movements/associations in each country, namely:
- Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN), Kenya
- Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), Tanzania
- National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU)
Because of its experience in spearheading national standards development and certification in the
region and an interest in organic policy issues, Grolink of Sweden was asked to bring into
the snapshot the aspects of certification and policy, including opportunities for harmonization
and cooperation within the region.
No less than 22 experts have contributed to the preparation of this study-a concrete example of partnership in action.