unctad.org | Greening Ecuador's exports of cacao-chocolate and fishery products: no easy task
Greening Ecuador's exports of cacao-chocolate and fishery products: no easy task
10 February 2016
Flag of Ecuador
Last year, Ecuador set out to make the cocoa-chocolate and fisheries sectors more environmentally and socially responsible-and more productive. Last week, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and UNCTAD met with government agencies, businesses and potential donors to assess progress.

Ecuador's National Action Plan for Green Exports and Products, developed with UNCTAD and adopted in July 2015, aims to make the cocoa-chocolate and fisheries sectors more "green," in addition to making them more productive.

Increasing the country's export earnings while at the same time protecting the environment and creating more jobs for the poor, with better wages and improved working conditions, is no easy task. But both sectors have the potential to do just that.

Cocoa-chocolate and fishery products are major players in Ecuador's portfolio of exports. Both sectors depend heavily on natural resources. And the majority of people working in these industries, formally or informally, are marginalized and live in poverty.

Despite the higher price tag, international consumers increasingly reach for chocolate and fish products labelled as environmentally and socially responsible. So greening these two sectors could help increase the price buyers are willing to pay for Ecuadorian cocoa and chocolate and fish products.

2016-02-10_cacao_350x232.jpgThe meeting offered the opportunity for the Ministry of Foreign Trade, UNCTAD and more than 45 representatives from government, businesses and academia working in the sectors to assess what had been done thus far, and to highlight key challenges to moving forward.

A major milestone in the action plan is the assessment of the regulatory systems-the legislation, regulations and institutions that govern the two sectors. The goal is to identify what is necessary to improve transparency and product traceability, from harvest to consumer, and to comply with international sustainability standards.

In the case of the fisheries sector, the action plan calls specifically for improved efforts against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities.

Juan Francisco Ballen, Ministry of Foreign Trade Sub-Secretary of Policy and Services, confirmed that a full review of the regulatory system had been completed with UNCTAD. And a direct outcome of the review was the presidential decree that increased the capacity of the State to fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities, including the ability to sanction vessels and companies that engage in these practices.

2016-02-10_fish_350x205.jpgRegarding compliance with standards, the Director of Ecuador's tuna canning industry association (CEIPA), Monica Maldonado, said the country's tuna sector had developed voluntary sustainability standards, and that the association had already applied for several international environmental sustainability certifications. Ecuador is the third largest exporter of tuna, behind Thailand and Spain.

In the cocoa-chocolate sector, the regulatory review was underway and the government had developed a new plan to improve productivity and sustainability, based on the plan designed by UNCTAD.

The strategy is a bold move: to become the first country to have complete traceability of its entire cacao harvest, from the field to the factory, and to get all cacao and chocolate certified as environmentally or socially sustainable.

Such a feat would really set apart Ecuadorian cacao in the global chocolate market, predicted to climb to $100 billion this year, with an expected supply deficit of about 1 million tons of cocoa beans by 2020. Mr. Ballen affirmed that this would position the country as the main supplier of "green" cocoa and chocolate.

Ecuador produces two main beans: CCN51 and cacao fino de aroma. CCN1 is purchased mainly by large chocolate companies, such as Hersheys, and used for mass-consumed chocolates. Cacao fino de aroma is harder to produce but is appreciated by connoisseurs, and therefore fetches a much higher price.

In addition to discussing what had been achieved, attendees highlighted challenges to implementing the National Action Plan-a lack of resources in particular.

Donors had provided funding for UNCTAD and the Ministry of Foreign Trade to conduct the National Green Export Review and develop the action plan. But they did not provide funding for the implementation phase, and this lack of resources poses a challenge.

For example, the action plan calls for a better use of technology and increased innovation in both sectors. This requires investment in research and development, and training, and these require additional resources, both human and financial.

The plan also calls for increased access to finance and credit, especially for small producers-this is particularly important for the cocoa-chocolate sector where small farmers abound.

This is one of the reasons donor organizations were invited to attend the meeting. UNCTAD and the Ministry of Trade were hoping to catch their attention.


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