UNCTAD, UNEP and IFOAM Join Forces for Regional Organic Standards in East Africa
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The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Environment program (UNEP) announce a joint project to facilitate the development of an East African Organic Standard, which will help to make organic products from East Africa more recognizable on supermarkets shelves throughout the world.
This project pools together the expertise and experience of a wide range of stakeholders at the national and regional levels, and builds upon work that is already underway in the region, in particular through the Export Promotion of Organic Products from Africa (EPOPA) project.
"IFOAM is a strong supporter of the development of regional organic standards to aid in the harmonization of trade in organic products. In the case of East Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are natural trading partners, and this project, in addition to making international markets more accessible, will strengthen trade in organic products between these countries, which is an integral part of creating a sustainable system," explains IFOAM President Gerald A. Herrmann.
The UNEP/UNCTAD Capacity Building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development (CBTF) project Promoting Production and Trading Opportunities for Organic Agricultural Products in East Africa, launched in Kampala on October 19, 2004, established a Regional Standard Technical Working Group (RSTWG). Comprising representatives from standards bodies, certification bodies and the organic sector from the three countries, the RSTWG held its first meeting in Kampala on October 24, 2004. It met again in Arusha on March 6 to discuss the contents of the standard. The RSTWG will now be strengthened by IFOAM's full-fledged support.
IFOAM is also launching the East African Organic Standards (OSEA) project this week. OSEA will provide resources to conduct national consultations and field-testing of the standard. Once the standard has been approved, IFOAM will also support the development of a joint inspection protocol and consumer education campaign through the OSEA.
"IFOAM welcomes increased collaboration with UNEP and UNCTAD. IFOAM has the knowledge base and expertise from the organic sector, both internationally and specifically in East Africa, to provide unparalleled leadership in the promotion and development of organic standards. UNEP and UNCTAD, as United Nations organizations, have access to both the human and financial resources necessary to bring the key players together and to lend broad credibility to an effort that will have direct environmental, social and economic benefits for the people of East Africa," comments Angela B. Caudle, IFOAM Executive Director.
This new partnership will be announced on the occasion of the CBTF Regional Workshop for Organic Agriculture, March 7-10, 2006, in Arusha, Tanzania.
The workshop will showcase the outcome of new research conducted under the CBTF project on such topics as the status of organic agriculture and related policies in East Africa (contributions from 17 authors in East Africa and abroad); best practices; organic agriculture and food security in Africa; and demand for organic products from East Africa. The workshop also will focus on opportunities for regional cooperation. The RSTWG will present the outcome of its work. On March 10, participants will have the chance to view organic agriculture in practice by visiting nearby organic farms.
Participants in the workshop will include representatives from Ministries of trade, environment and agriculture as well as standards bodies; the East African Community; national organic agriculture networks, including farmers and certifying bodies; research institutions and universities; national and international organizations involved in organic agriculture; and international experts.
All draft papers are available on the CBTF website at http://www.unep-unctad.org/cbtf/openArusha.htm.
It is expected that the information and momentum generated through the workshop will help to promote production and trade in organic agriculture in East Africa.