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Trading Opportunities for Organic Food Products from developing Countires - Strengthening Research and Policy-making capacity on Trade and Environment in Developing Countries

Vossenaar, René and Wynen, Els (Eds.) (2004) Trading Opportunities for Organic Food Products from developing Countires - Strengthening Research and Policy-making capacity on Trade and Environment in Developing Countries. UNCTAD.

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Summary

Since 1999, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Foundation for International Environment Law and Development (FIELD), with the support of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), have assisted developing countries in strengthening their research and policy-making capacity with regard to trade and environment issues. Among the priority issues selected by beneficiary countries to be addressed under this programme has been the identification of opportunities for increased exports of organic agricultural products. I believe there are good reasons for this. As several of the papers in this volume indicate, a significant proportion of agricultural land in many developing countries is cultivated by traditional methods, with little or no use of agrochemicals. By converting some of these areas to organic agriculture, producers, and particularly small farmers, could improve soil fertility, move towards more sustainable forms of production and reduce their dependence on external inputs. In addition, where external agricultural inputs are expensive or difficult to obtain, as in many parts of the developing world, other methods of production might prove to be equally or even more efficient yet also more affordable.
UNCTAD is interested in organic agriculture because of the many ways in which it can contribute to trade and sustainable development for developing countries. In particular it is relevant to export diversification, poverty reduction, gender and environmental protection. The papers in this volume and other related work carried out by UNCTAD provide some useful observations and insights in this regard. First, the organic agriculture sector is still very small. Second, organic agriculture in developing countries faces several production, marketing and institutional constraints that need to be overcome. Third, subsidies and other support measures in developed countries have a serious negative impact on the competitiveness of organic products from developing countries that compete with locally or regionally produced organic products. This book provides some ideas on how to address these issues, highlighting questions of standards, equivalence and certification. Even though many farmers in developing countries have been using organic methods of production for centuries, experience with certified organic agriculture is relatively new. This creates challenges for Governments and farming communities. Certification issues figure prominently in a follow-up UNCTAD/FIELD project, also funded by DFID, and in work on organic agriculture carried out jointly by the United Nations Environment programme (UNEP) and UNCTAD through their Capacity-building Task Force on Trade, Environment and Development. In addition, the International Task Force on Harmonization and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture, recently created by UNCTAD, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Federation for Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), aims at facilitating international trade and access of developing countries to international organic markets.


EPrint Type:Book
Keywords:research policy trade developing countries
Subjects: Food systems > Markets and trade
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Research affiliation: International Organizations > United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD
Related Links:http://r0.unctad.org/trade_env/test1/openF1.htm
Deposited By: Wynen, Dr Els
ID Code:3113
Deposited On:20 Aug 2004
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:29
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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