Summary of Plenary Sessions/Discussions
This section summarizes the main discussion points during the plenary sessions. For more details on the presentations, please refer to the previous section and to the Study “World Markets for Organic Fruit and Vegetables: Opportunities for Developing Countries in the Production and Export of Organic Horticultural Products.”
Session 1: The World Markets for Organic Fruit and Vegetables: Current Situation and Prospects
Paul Pilkauskas, Senior Commodity Specialist, FAO, presented the main findings of the organic markets in European countries as reviewed in the publication World Markets for Organic Fruit and Vegetables; Opportunities for Developing Countries in the Production and Export of Organic Horticultural Products. Highlights of his presentation included information on the total organic sales in Europe, estimated at US$8 billion; Germany is the most important market. In his presentation he noted that there was a particularly fast growth of organic sales during the last years in some countries, notably Italy and the United Kingdom. Smaller, but still high, growth rates are observed in countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands, while growth has stagnated, or is somewhat declined, in Austria and Denmark, countries with a generally higher percentage of organic sales in total food sales. Despite the observed high figures in many countries, the organic market is still a niche market, accounting for less than three percent of all food sales in the countries studied.
Despite the increase in organic production in European countries, organic consumption is expected to continue to outgrow supply resulting in a continuing need for imports of organic fruits and vegetables, at least in the short and medium terms. Best opportunities are seen for counterseasonal fresh produce and non-temperate zone products.
Rudy Kortbech-Olesen, Senior Market Development Adviser, ITC and Tim Larsen, ITC consultant, gave a presentation on the organic market in the United States. In their presentation, they noted that the US organic market has an estimated size of US$8 billion, i.e. the same size as the European market. They advised that producers should not attempt to target the whole US market, but only those states in which a high number of consumers interested in organic products are found. Major possibilities are seen not only for tropical and off-season products, but also for in-season products, since demand for many organic products is higher than domestic supply.
Bart Vrolijk, Agricultural Trade Specialist, FAO, presented on the Japanese organic market. He explained the definitional problem concerning the word "organic" in Japan, which until April 2001 also included products produced with less (but not strictly without) chemical fertilizer and pesticides. These products are referred to as "green". Moreover, he said that the market survey on Japan showed that the total size of the Japanese organic market is estimated at US$350 million, while the total market size of "green' products is estimated at US$2.5 billion. He indicated that the main difficulty for organic fresh produce exports to Japan is the random fumigation upon arrival in Japan, resulting in the loss of the organic status of the product. It was suggested that producers and exporters work closely together with a Japanese based importer, to better understand the complexity of the market.
Bas Schneiders, International Sourcing Officer, Weleda A.G., presented on organic markets through the eyes of an importer. He described the typical organic consumer, the main reasons why people buy organic products mostly due to, in decreasing order of importance, health, taste and environmental concerns. Mr Schneiders said that despite differences in the organic markets within Europe, these markets are interconnected. In other words, products imported in one country are frequently transported to another country where final consumption takes place. His advice for (potential) organic exporters was to establish long-term cooperation with importers, based on the following steps: (i) find the right partner; (ii) make a mutual plan for production (minimum three years); (iii) make a yearly crop/shipment plan; (iv) agree on quality and packing criteria; (v) find the right organic certifier; (vi) organize logistics.
Discussion - Session 1
Q: It was said that the price difference between organic and conventional products is going to decrease. What do you think the organic horticultural market will look like in the next 5 to 10 years?
Rudy Kortbech-Olesen: It is difficult to make projections for the organic market, although it is likely that, with growing volumes traded and a more transparent and efficient market structure, price premia will decline. Since organic products have their own distinct niche, sometimes they can find a market where no conventional product exists. Price premia will not disappear completely, as dedicated consumers are willing to pay more.
Q: Is the US price premium across the board, or for specific commodities, and is it for fresh or processed products?
Tim Larsen: The price premium is strictly for fresh produce and not for processed foods. It continues to vary. It would be interesting to have information on how retail price premia differ from wholesale farmers' price premia, but these data are not available.
Session 2: Market Access Issues: Standards and Regulations
Gunnar Rundgren, President of IFOAM, explained the main differences between organic legislations in the main markets, i.e. United States, the European Union and Japan. All standards are set along the same criteria, although there are differences, for example the start and length of the conversion period, the approved inputs, labelling and contamination issues. He suggested that for the establishment of national organic standards basic international standards could be used as a start, such as the IFOAM standards or those of FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius.
Jim Riddle, Secretary of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in the United States, summarized the main issues of the newly formulated US National Organic Rule which will became fully effective on 21 October 2002. From this date the new USDA organic logo may also be used (not before!). The organic legislation does not apply to farmers with an annual sales value of less than US$5 000. It distinguishes three labelling categories: (1) 100 percent organic; (ii) organic 95 percent (with the remaining five percent of ingredients on the “National List”), and; (iii) made with organic ingredients (if these are at least 70 percent of the final product). The use of the USDA organic seal is only allowed under (i) and (ii).
Bo van Elzakker, Director of AgroEco Consultancy, presented the regulations for the import and labelling of organic foods in the European Community. He specified that in the EC, organic agriculture is governed by regulation EC 2092/91. However, Member States can formulate their own specific guidelines provided they meet the minimum requirements of regulation EC 2092/91. It was noted that the existence of individual national policies creates certain problems for importers (and exporters to the EC), leading to some confusion and frustration. Mr van Elzakker indicated that generally, production standards are the same. Although for many countries it seems attractive to be included unto the EC list of so-called third countries with equivalent organic certification and accreditation. He stated that inclusion into that list is difficult and time consuming and gave the example of the Czech Republic which took over seven years to finally obtain inclusion.
Discussion - Session 2
Q. Citrus growers from Belize are interested in organic production. However, there are so many regulations, as discussed in the presentations in this session, there is much confusion and feeling of futility. How close are we to getting to the point of having international regulations and will it be soon enough for us to reap the benefits?
Bo van Elzakker: There is a baseline in the Codex, which contains guidelines approved intergovernmentally, but there is more complexity involved. IFOAM and Codex are the two international standard setting bodies. The former is private and voluntary while the latter is intergovernmental. There is a role for governments, since the private sector and IFOAM have no power to legally protect the use of the word 'organic.'
It is also important to keep things in perspective. The organic industry is still young and in its early development - only 10 to 15 years old. Certifying bodies did not exist at inception. In five years the situation will be different, but for now, I agree with the advice to look to the strictest regulations and highest common denominator.
Q. The presentation on the USDA regulations indicated that inspections would be required for each production unit. In Belize most producers are small and pool their products together to achieve export volume. This type of certification will prohibit access to the market, as it would be too expensive.
Jim Riddle: the US Rule originated for US producers and not for developing countries. This deficiency has been recognized by the USDA and will be addressed. There will be a meeting on 12 October 2001 to help to understand the problem and find solutions and to put protocols in place. The internal control system does have validity if an external audit is in place and there is a recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to amend this rule.
Q. Is the US$5 000 exemption for farmers in the United States applicable to farmers in the Latin American/Caribbean region?
Jim Riddle: That may be possible, but the US Government has no authority to audit producers in developing countries in the event of a complaint. Most regulations would come from a local base. The domestic situation in each country must be looked at first.
Q. Is it correct to say that there are no regulations for GMOs in the 2000 USDA Regulation?
Jim Riddle: No, they are clearly prohibited. There are no threshold levels.
Q. Why doesn't the NOSB set a rule of zero tolerance?
Jim Riddle: That would penalize the producer subject to drift. Zero tolerance may not be the best answer. The EC has proposed zero tolerance on pesticides but there has been no formal proposal for GMOs. It may take years before there is a definitive decision.
Q. There is so much regulation that problems will arise. Why wait 120 days after using animal residue? Let us not add problems but try to help those farmers who want to use the new philosophy that is organic farming
Gunnar Rundgren: Research studies show that the pathogen E. coli breaks down in 100 days. The regulations therefore allow 90 days if there is no contact with the soil and 120 days if there is contact with the soil. The regulations do put producers at a competitive disadvantage, since they cannot use chemical inputs. That is why organic products get a premium price. Some rules may be too stringent and others too loose. We are always refining them. We do not want to accept low standards. We want to provide safe food with a good price for producers, but it is not easy.
There are also problems at international fora like Codex and IFOAM. Developing countries are not well represented at fora for a number of reasons such as having no resources to send a representative(s). There is a big challenge to get representation from developing countries. The international standards are therefore biased towards developed countries.
The Codex Alimentarius criteria for organic food substances are being reviewed and responses from governments are needed.
Q. With increasing market share of organic products, decreasing premiums and increasing standards, it may become increasingly difficult for developing countries to meet the basic standard requirements for export.
A. Developing countries are not favoured but they may have comparative advantages e.g. low labour costs. Don't look only at the problems but also at the opportunities and advantages. Developing countries have the advantage of farmers' organizations, direct commercial links and quality of the product. It warrants investigation. However, not everyone should go into organic production.
Q. There is a big difference between the IFOAM and US rules with respect to social responsibility. Why is there no consideration of this in the US Rule?
Jim Riddle: The US Rule is based on an old law, the Organic Production Act of 1990. Social criteria were not addressed at that time. The USDA sees the regulation of social justice as outside its scope.
Standards are set according to conditions in richer countries. People in developing countries must become more active in the discussion of standards.
Q. Organic certification is a bureaucratic process. Organic producers find it difficult to access the market because certification is so expensive. There are two issues: the development of systems that are ecologically sound and the creation of rules by bureaucratic organizations. How can these be reconciled?
Bo van Elzakker: Farmers must organize into groups that provide services, including education. With respect to costs, there is the issue of volume and economies of scale. Certification costs must not be greater than two to three percent of the export value of the crop. The internal control system must have a similar ceiling on the cost.
Q. What option can we offer small organic farmers who do not have the capacity to communicate with the international market? Maybe national markets are the solution but there still remains a problem of certification.
Bo van Elzakker: Organic production takes place at many different levels. Apart from the export level there is production for the local market which does not require foreign certification. Do not impose foreign certification on local markets. Even in the United States there is an exception for small farmers earning less than US$5 000.
Q. Are there any regulations forcing producers who have been decertified by one body and seeking to be certified by another body to declare that they were decertified?
Gunnar Rundgren: There are such regulations in the United States. The producers must disclose why they were decertified and how they remedied the problem. There is a fine of US$10 000 for violations of this regulation.
With IFOAM, there is no such regulation. It is an obligation of the certifying body to investigate if there appear to be problems.
Q. This discussion focuses on trade, but there are other reasons for organic production. In the Dominican Republic, decisions are taken to produce organically because it conserves the soil and improves its condition. There are different reasons, but we also want to encourage such activity and the Government of the Dominican Republic wants to cooperate on this.
A. The work done in the Dominican Republic can be used to further organic agriculture in the Caribbean.
Session 3: Producing and exporting Organic Horticultural Products in Latin America and the Caribbean
Pipo Lernoud, IFOAM representative in Latin America, focused his presentation on local markets. He mentioned the importance of local markets in various countries, including Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina. In these markets, where organic products are not necessarily certified or labelled, no price premium is obtained, at least not for leaf vegetables. Distribution through specialized stores provides the information to consumers. Other distribution channels include subscription box schemes and community supported systems
María Del Carmen Pérez Hernández, Directora General, Instituto de Investigaciones de Cítricos y otros Frutales, shared Cuban experiences in developing models for sustainable production to reduce dependence on imported inputs and high capital costs given Cuba's limited foreign exchange. She noted that Cuba's organic capacity developed over 30 years. She argued that conversion from conventional to organic production was faster on farms using polycropping systems. Conversion of larger farming units with a single crop is more challenging; yields are lower and conversion costs are high. María Del Carmen informed that there was a need to:
(a) validate organic processes, especially with respect to pest and disease management;
(b) develop appropriate technology packages and economic models for presentation to farmers/develop single crop system;
(c) increase availability of organic fertilizers and develop mechanization.
Pedro Cussianovich, Representative, IICA, presented an economic analysis of experimental organic production systems for broccoli and cassava (annual crops). Yields were higher than with conventional production because of intensive production and higher densities. However, costs of production were higher because the systems are labour-intensive. Moreover, he noted that there was need to develop technology packages to support/validate results of economic analyses for adequate decision-making especially with respect to sustainability and price differences over time.
Pascal Liu, Commodity Specialist, FAO, presented the findings of an economic analysis comparing organic and conventional citrus production in Spain. The study found that costs of production were higher and profitability was lower in the case of organic citrus in Spain. In addition to lower yields, fertilizers were more expensive in the organic system. The profitability of the organic system was found to be more sensitive to variations in costs and prices than that of conventional citrus production.
Laura Montenegro, Director, Argencert (certification body), shared experiences in the growth in production and markets for Argentina's organic produce.
Her recommendations were:
- seek to obtain equivalence of the local certification system with that of the EC, which facilitates market access to the EC;
- know the product and the market (target);
- limit the number of farmers in a group (no more than ten); and
- seek support from the medical fraternity to promote the health benefits of organic produce.
Limitations included: risk of contamination of organic crops by genetically modified commodities, lack of promotion of the sector, lack of integration amongst producers and logistical constraints.
Jim Waller, CABI International, spoke about challenges and opportunities for organic pest management systems. He argued that farmers must understand pest ecology to disrupt it. He indicated that pests are kept in check by natural balances within the ecosystem; he shared experiences on the organic management of pest groups - nematodes, weeds, pathogens, arthropods.
He presented the following techniques:
- introduction of weed pathogens, practices to favour the growth of the plant over that of the weed
- pheromones, trap crops, repellent crops, manual picking and biological control techniques to manage arthropods.
Discussions - Session 3
Q. Do you use mycorrhiza in Cuba and where can I get it?
María Del Carmen Pérez Hernández: Yes, we put it into the soil at the beginning of production, especially in root crops. You can get it from the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agricolas (INCA).
Q. Pascal Liu's presentation on the study in Spain is different from the concept in Latin America. We use diversification. In such a system the process of conversion is more profitable. We can diversify, but the problem is marketing. Also farmers are not organized.
Pascal Liu: The system studied in Spain was a monoculture. The yields of one crop and of the total agro-ecosystem are different. The organic farmer is important to society and the government should provide support, but the initiative must come from the farmer.
Diversification can be positive as it spreads risks borne by farmers. But it is difficult to market several different commodities in the same chain.
Q. This question is for Laura Montenegro. Can you tell us more about the process of development of the organic market and how you were able to interest consumers in organic products?
Laura Montenegro: Initially, Argentina did not have a strong movement like other countries in Latin America. We had a few small isolated producers who were members of IFOAM. It was easy in the beginning. We brought together the producers, the Ministry of Agriculture and other divisions of the government. A register was developed for the country. We now have 14 registration bodies, three of which deal with the EC. The EC trusts us because both private and public bodies work together.
It involves a lot of work at different levels. We intend to grow further in the local market, but we have to balance it internally and externally.
Certification locally and internationally is the same but the structure is different. For export there must be extreme transparency and competence. There are dedicated inspectors. For internal production, an ethics board governs the code of ethics with respect to what is suitable for the local market.
Q. Can you explain the impact of GMOs on organic agriculture?
Laura Montenegro: There are clear regulations prohibiting the use of GMOs in organic agriculture. If there are GMOs outside certified organic areas the risk is contamination of organic farms by these GMOs. Seeds and cultivation itself must be monitored. It is a complex issue.
Q. What other crops are under organic production in Cuba? What is the main objective of a strategy for local vs. export markets?
María Del Carmen Pérez Hernández: There is certification of coffee, sugar and aloes for export. We have models of organic production but the crops are not necessarily for export. Urban agriculture is a popular movement which is very important in ensuring food security.
Cocoa and mango pulp have been identified as possible export products. We must balance the local and export markets because we must feed the population, as well as earn foreign exchange.
Comment by a participant: Some of the examples we have seen show that crops converted from conventional to organic production show decreased yields. The plants, which are used to high inputs, are subjected to a new regime. It is possible to find landraces and farmer selections which have not been subjected to intensive management and which, with better management can give better yields.
Q. What about the aesthetics of organic products? They are not as pretty and therefore not as attractive, especially on the domestic market.
A. It is important to understand that we are aiming for competition. In the export market to the EC, the product must be as attractive as the traditional product. This leads to much loss in the grading process. For the local market there is no need to be as stringent.
Quality depends on the production system and how it is implemented. Don't think of the local market as being a market for products rejected by exporters. Look at the effect on the ecosystem and the soil/plant relationship and educate the consumers. Organic production needs support services just like conventional agriculture. All the variables must be articulated.
We should select for other criteria. We might have to select for taste rather than for appearance.
Comment by a participant: We need to educate consumers. It is illogical that consumers are not eating a banana because of its appearance (e.g. bruises or small size).
Pascal Liu: Banana is a good example. Some varieties which are better suited for organic production are not accepted by the market because the taste and physical appearance are different from the norm.
Comments by participants: Most people do not like large bananas. They have been forced on us by the marketing system. We must be careful to distinguish between what the consumers actually like and what the retailers say they like.
There is no mention of the benefits of reduced pesticide use in decreasing groundwater contamination.
In the organic world, there is a school of thought that believes that the word 'pest' should not be used. In biodynamic agriculture the stress is on the control and management of the environment. Studies show that a healthy plant does not attract pests.
Pascal Liu: In terms of the quality of water, organic farmers are usually not compensated for the benefits that they bring to the community. However, there are some exceptions: in certain European countries, for example, organic farmers get payments for the positive impact their farming has on the environment.
Comment by a participant: Andrew Royer has been farming organically in Dominica for the past 30 years on a slope, on less than half hectare. He produces 40 different products. He has held the view that he should not address the pest problem but create a harmonious environment. The words of such a man are not heard in the Caribbean, especially not by institutes of learning. I mentioned him because there is a quality of learning among the small farmers who have been producing healthy products for decades.
Comment by a participant: I am the Director of an NGO that works in organic agriculture on small farms. We are producing a film on Andrew Royer and a handbook on his methods. Andrew did it using his head. He has never ceased to experiment. His methods are specific to his locality.
Q. With respect to the study on cassava production in Costa Rica, the cost of production is 80 percent over the cost of conventional produce and the price is the same for both, yet the net income was 216 percent more. How is this?
Pedro Cussianovich: The yield is much greater for organic production and small farmers do not cost their labour and other inputs to the farm.
Q. There is a high cost of production for organic produce. How can we get agricultural loans?
Pascal Liu: In some European countries, for example, legislation provides for a subsidy which lasts for a number of years and decreases over time. This is an answer for developed countries. In developing countries the state can rarely afford to give the farmer this kind of support.
Session 4: Establishing an organic export sector - Country case studies: lessons learnt and success factors
Joan Petersen, Agronomist, CARDI (Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute), presented a study on sustainable agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago.
Laura Montenegro, Director, Argencert, spoke about the lessons learnt in the organic export sector in Argentina.
Bart Vrolijk, Agricultural Trade Specialist, FAO, presented results of a study on the organic horticultural sector in Chile.
Moses Kairo, Director, Caribbean and Latin American Centre, CABI Bioscience, presented on the organic fruit and vegetable sector in the Dominican Republic.
Gunnar Rundgren, President of IFOAM, presented (on behalf of Mr Charles Walaga, who was unable to attend), a case study on the organic agriculture export sector in Uganda.
Discussion - Session 4
Q. Is there a database available on the kind of studies presented here this morning with the emphasis on good science, which we can use to convince policy-makers to give more support to organic farming?
Bart Vrolijk: FAO can provide its studies, but these were done in countries where the data were available. Even so, it was a struggle.
Gunnar Rundgren: IFOAM worked on a project that compared traditional, organic and conventional production. It was difficult to complete the work and to get data. A report is available but it needs further inputs.
Nadia Scialabba: FAO has developed a methodology for data collection, which will be available by the end of the year. We have plans to send out questionnaires worldwide to collect country data on organic farming. The problem is that data are often not comparable between countries. We are building on IFOAM's work. We want something applicable with parameters that can be used worldwide.
The UNDP did similar studies for 23 countries. One problem is that private companies (for example, certification bodies) own the information, some of which is protected.
The studies need to analyze costs and show how the price is built in.
The Organic Research Foundation has a database of comparative studies. The address is www.ofrf.org. Most of the work is on temperate products, but there is some information on tropical products.
Comments by participants: Belize is in the process of developing legislation. Perhaps this should be done regionally.
Research methods developed for conventional crop production are not suitable for organic production. The challenge is to develop new research tools.
I fully agree. We need to have a systems approach. However, there is still a need to compare the conventional production of a crop with the organic production of the same crop.
Q. Is there any socio-economic study on types of producers and the evolution of the system of certification?
Has there been any increase in the incidence of fraud?
Has the production of mycotoxins increased, especially in grains and cereals?
A (by a participant) Socio-economic research is the answer to the previous question.
The number of certifiers has increased. It is a business; some have even become large multinational companies.
There is no way to say whether we have more or less fraud. The incidence in the EC is high but it is difficult to say if it is higher or lower than before.
New limits for mycotoxins are being established. This needs to be addressed.
Representatives from the various organizations gave a short introduction on possibilities for assistance for developing organic agriculture. Some of this information can be found on the respective home pages, i.e.:
FAO - www.fao.org
CTA - www.cta.nl
CDE - www.cde.ws
IICA - www.iicanet.org
CABI - www.cabi.org
ITC - www.intracen.org
During the third day of the Conference, five simultaneous Roundtables (listed below) took place. Three technical experts presented papers.
Roundtable 1 - Developing National Organic Standards and Complying with those of Importing Countries
No papers were presented under this Roundtable.
Roundtable 2 - Organic Production: A Fundamental Change in Farming Methods?
During this Roundtable, Ms Nadia Scialabba, FAO served as Roundtable Moderator and gave an introduction. Mr Rick Morris of The Compost Farm (USA) gave a presentation on “Creating an Island Industry: Composting of Organic Waste from Natural Resources.”
Roundtable 3 - Establishing Local Organic Certification Systems in Latin America and the Caribbean: Achieving Cost-effectiveness and Reliability
No papers were presented here.
Roundtable 4 - Exporting Organic Products: Post-harvest Operations, Conservation and Transport
Mr Daniele Giovannucci, Senior Consultant, World Bank, United States of America gave a presentation on “Impact on Organics and New Certification Strategies: The Role and Characteristics of the Coffee Market.”
Roundtable 5 - Domestic Markets: An Option for Organic Products:
Ms Kristina Taboulchanas, Research Associate, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, gave a presentation on “Exploring Potential Markets for Cuban Organic Produce in Local Tourist Resorts: A Preliminary Study.”
Introduction by Moderator on “Prospects for Organic Agriculture”
Ms Nadia Scialabba, Environment Officer, Environment and Natural Resources Service, Sustainable Development Department, FAO, Italy
The scene today
The organic agriculture sector is today the fastest growing food sector. Impetus to the rapidly growing organic agricultural sector is provided by withdrawal of government subsidies on agricultural inputs, introduction of policy instruments favourable to organic agriculture, controversial food and environmental safety debate on genetic modification and crises provoked by dioxin-contaminated food, mad cow and foot-and-mouth diseases.
On the supply side and in the European Union, policy instruments were instrumental in persuading small farmers to convert to organic farming by providing financial compensation for losses incurred during conversion. Regulations that promote organic agriculture by encouraging supply are however, insufficient to ensure the continuous growth of the organic sector. For example, in the mid-1990s, Austria was the lead organic producer in the EU with about ten percent of farmers using organic methods because of subsidies offered by the government. However, scarce advisory systems and inadequate processing and marketing channels resulted in a return of organic farmers to conventional methods in 2000 (e.g. 25 percent of organic farmers in the Tyrol).
On the demand side, aggressive promotion and the marketing strategies of retailers and supermarkets have created new market opportunities in northern countries. The role of the major food-retailing chains in promoting the growth of the market for organic food is crucial. These chains now account for a major share of the retail markets for fresh as well as processed foods, so large-scale market access for organic foods depends on securing shelf-space in this type of outlet.
The “organic challenge”
The development of organic agriculture will not be linear but responsive to technological innovations due to unforeseen factors that will challenge agricultural development as a whole.
Within Europe, the development of organic agriculture took 30 years to occupy one percent of agricultural lands and food markets. The recent food safety crises, however, resulted in an unforeseen growth whereby governments, such as the United Kingdom have set targets to have 30 percent of lands under organic production.
In Argentina, the spectacular growth of organic lands from less than 500 000 ha in 1999 to three million hectares in 2000, occurred mainly on grassland, in response to organic meat demand (although this reflects reclassification and extension of certification rather than switches between farming systems). World meat demand is increasing and is expected to continue to increase. If safety concerns continue to multiply (BSE, salmonella, dioxin), many countries (such as Japan, the largest importer of meat) are expected to seek more organic meat.
Future evidence on the health and environmental safety (or lack of it) of most transgenics will be determining options for biotechnology or organic agriculture. For example, oilcrop production (especially soybeans and rape) is subject to major changes as oilcrops are the focus of biotechnology development. At present, major organic soybean producers (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay) are being heavily confronted with GM soy (and Bt corn) that have become mainstream in these countries. Consolidated knowledge on the safety of GM crops might either increase the potential of net exporting countries through improved production of GM foods or create new markets (and exporters) of organic commodities.
The current deregulation of agricultural policies leaves decisions on the most suitable type of agriculture and food production to market forces. The growing concern of society about the safety of food produced by conventional systems, as well as the growing interest of multinational food enterprises and retailers in organic products, suggest that the growth of certified organic agriculture is likely to develop according to market rules.
However, moves towards the decoupling of agricultural support from production and the increasing emphasis on support to agriculture's role in providing public goods will also provide an impetus towards adoption of environmentally friendly farming systems, including organic agriculture. Agri-environmental policies and global environmental conventions (especially those promoting carbon sequestration and biodiversity) are likely to trigger an increase in the demand and supply of organic agriculture products.
Industrialized organic markets
The future of organic agriculture will depend on the political will and economic forces that will dominate the agriculture sector as a whole. As agriculture globalizes, a few and large private companies will increasingly control the world's food-supply chains.
Access to inspection and certification, as well as the necessity to develop new ways in processing organic food, are major challenges that are likely to be taken up by large and established food companies. More than occurs with other foods, multinational food companies are expected to certify organic food supply, both in terms of contracting production and international trading. In particular, the growth of processed organic foods will be facilitated by the capacity of these companies to assemble ingredients from different parts of the world and to guide production to meet their specific needs.
The current tendency for organic convenience food in industrialized countries is expected to increase, especially for tropical beverages, baby food and frozen vegetables that will dominate imports. Some tropical organic raw materials (e.g. coffee, cocoa, cotton, tea) are likely to have a discreet market share as cash crops.
The equitable access to services and markets is related to the regulatory and capacity-building role of governments and of the United Nations institutions that assist them.
Agricultural and environmental policies, including those responding to food safety concerns, have a large role in facilitating or hindering the adoption of organic agriculture. Besides financial support to conversion and regulations to protect the claim of organic producers, public investments in research and training are fundamental. The main factor limiting organic agriculture development is its reliance on knowledge, a public good that is non-existent in most countries. Extension personnel rarely receive adequate training in organic methods and organic agricultural research is underfunded. Ultimately, the development of technical progress will determine the evolution of relative profitability of food systems.
The increasing demand for certified organic agriculture products entails a great capacity to respond to traders, retailers and consumers' needs in terms of quantity, regularity and quality of supply. Suppliers must be able to demonstrate that their products comply with internationally agreed organic standards. The establishment of reliable certification and accreditation systems requires advanced legal and technical knowledge and organizational skills. Active support to inspection and certification is necessary to facilitate the participation of farmers and especially smallholders, to the benefits of the organic system.
Developing countries, that represent the main suppliers of tropical organic commodities to northern markets, may face trade barriers due to different country requirements. International equivalence of organic standards is of key importance to decrease government administration and to prevent redundant certification. The application of the principle of equivalence would bring mutual benefits to both exporting and importing countries because it would ensure flexibility to exporters and conformity with requirements of importers. Growth prospects for organic trade will be availed only if official measures are established for international equivalency of organic standards.
Sustainable food supply chains
Focusing only on exports is likely to be counterproductive to organic agriculture development. Considering the modest technologies available today for organic agriculture and the relatively vulnerable organic post-harvest and marketing chain, certified organic food has its limits in contributing to world food supply. However, the potential contribution of organic agriculture to developing countries' food security, especially for subsistence and local markets, can be substantial.
Organic practices use cheap and locally available resources. The productivity of agricultural systems can be improved in the absence of factors over which farmers have little control: mineral fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, improved seeds/breeds and access to credit. Organic agriculture techniques replace external inputs by ecological services and farmer's management skills. In resource-poor and market-marginalized areas, organic agriculture is an alternative in the search for an environmentally sound solution to the problem of food insecurity. Food supply strategies of most developing countries remain a disincentive to the development of organic agriculture. A policy change towards re-valorization of local production and practises, supported by investments in capacity-building, will be fundamental in the adoption of organic agriculture in resource-poor areas.
Presentation (Roundtable 2) on “Creating an Island Industry: Composting of Organic Waste from Natural Resources”
Mr Rick Morris, Owner, The Compost Farm, United States of America
“PLANT DIRECT” COMPOST GROWING MEDIA
You may plant vegetables, flowers, herbs and other horticultural products directly into this product including lawn grasses. We produce it with or without our distillery by-products.
I. Compost as a soil amendment
An excellent amendment of high-quality organic matter with very high populations of microbes and beneficial bacteria.
I. Distillery By-products
A) Naturally blended grains
Finely ground corn, rye and barley malt with very high contents of vitamins and minerals. This product should be added to soil only in the fall, then worked into soils. Serves as a microbe and worm feed also. Adds vitamins and minerals to soil.
Ninety-two percent natural spring water with eight percent natural blended grains. Product has a milky look to it. Contains juices from the natural blended grains and has beneficial amino acids, bacteria and microbes. It is packed full of vitamins and minerals.
A thick solution of all of the above-mentioned products may be used by diluting with water and applying it to the soil through watering or tilling.
A) Whiskey planter barrels
Half and full barrels…several designs. Branded and finished…branded and unfinished…plain unfinished.
A) White oak ash
Helps loosen soils, helps the pH factor and adds certain essential nutrients.
A) Worm Castings
A high-powered fertilizer that slowly breaks down in soil (fertilizer in a capsule).
I. Micronized Compost
A micro-fine compost used during the growing season for instant nourishment by root or foliage feeding or for making compost tea.
Presentation on “Impact on Organics and New Certification Strategies: The Role and Characteristics of the Coffee Market”
Mr Daniele Giovannucci, Senior Consultant, World Bank, United States of America
Why is coffee so important?
The world's second biggest commodity
Grown in more than 60 countries - 14 billion lbs.
Twelve million hectares often in environmentally sensitive areas
More than 20 million families depend on it
How many TREES do you drink?
2 cups/day = 34 gallons/ year = 18 coffee trees
If you drink conventional, those trees were treated with as much as 11 pounds of chemical fertilizers and 8 ounces of pesticides.
High potential to promote Organic systems
- People (consumer and producer)
North American Speciality Coffee Market
The sustainable coffee survey. In collaboration with The Summit Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, SCAA, CCC, World Bank/GEF
Consumer awareness: the stimulations to buy
yes to better flavour (94 percent)
yes to better health (pay more)
yes (sort of) to better environment
yes (sometimes) to social justice
Responding to Market Demand
“Cause-related economic development initiatives can't afford to be just issue oriented. They must perform to market standards.
- horticultural products
- free range livestock
“Quality is job 1”
What matters to coffee firms
What is organic or sustainable?
Survey indicates that:
Both coffee industry and consumers are confused.
- “How do you think the farmer feels”?
We are in danger of diluting the message!
- “Sure it's natural man….yeah, sustainable too"
Coffee: one of the few forms of agriculture that can potentially conserve vital habitat, biodiversity and human health
Range of coffee growing conditions from sun plantation to rustic jungle…
Captures incentives of niche market (demand, competition and price premiums)
"Glues" participants to dual objectives: commerce and conservation, by linking economic success to monitored conservation principles
Next Steps: in the field
lessons indicate there are three critical components to embed appropriate incentives into a sustainable framework :
Sustainable Coffee Definitions
Shade criteria for conserving/creating biodiversity as well as soil and water conservation
Organic criteria include soil health practices and absence of synthetic agrochemicals
Fair Trade develops direct relationships between an importer and smallholder cooperatives that provides them with a guaranteed price and pre-financing
Label Fatigue and the Super Seal
Importance of Certification
Sustainable Coffee Sales
Conservation Principles for Coffee Production
Align coffee production with biodiversity conservation
Ecosystem Soil, Water and Wildlife Conservation
Pest And Disease Management
Waste Management and Energy Conservation
Sustainable and Just Livelihoods - # 1 challenge for coffee sector
Building Strategic Alliances is Critical
Industry Expectations for Sustainable Coffee
Presentation on “Exploring Potential Markets for Cuban Organic Produce in Local Tourist Resorts: A Preliminary Study”
Ms Kristina Taboulchanas, Research Associate, International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada in collaboration with the Department of Agronomy of the University of Cienfuegos, Cienfuegos, Cuba
The inspiration for this work arose out of a Master´s thesis study conducted in 1999 in Cienfuegos, Cuba, titled: “Organic status and dietary role of organoponicos in Cienfuegos, Cuba”
In the first part of the study, organoponicos (specialized urban food production systems) in the municipality of Cienfuegos were examined to determine how “organic” these systems are based on the Canadian minimum organic certification standards.
Organic Status of Organoponicos
Study conducted in 1999 where Canadian minimum organic certification standards were used as an operational definition of the term ''organic''
One representative organoponico was studied in detail while complementary information was collected from ten others
Intensive urban horticultural production systems
Cultivation takes place in container beds filled with an organic matter and soil mix
Cultivation techniques include crop rotations, intercropping, use of beneficial insects, organic fertilizers (worm compost, sugar-cane waste), manual weeding and biological control
It was determined that the organoponico operations practise a form of ecological agriculture that is “functionally organic” since the major flows are organic and the system is ecologically sound
To meet internationally recognized organic marketing standards some practices would have to be changed such as the use of prohibited inputs and the lack of production records
Future of organoponicos?
There are concerns that under changing economic conditions farmers may abandon ecological production methods in favour of cheap chemical inputs
There could be some benefit to certain producers in Cuba to obtaining organic certification of their production, e.g. for sales to hotels
This could act as an incentive to preserving ecological food production systems
¨If there is a Market there is a Way¨
The main objective of this preliminary study is: to examine the potential to market locally produced organic foods particularly fruits and vegetables) in Cuban tourist resorts
1. To determine the current food production and distribution system that exists in Cuba (as it relates to tourism)
2. To determine what percentage of fruits and vegetables consumed in local tourist resorts are produced in Cuba
3. To determine whether there is a demand for organic foodstuffs within the tourist industry
4. To determine whether the demand is greater for locally produced organic foods (fruits and vegetables)
5. To determine whether tourists are willing to pay a higher price on their vacation packages/bill if local organic foods are to be included
6. To determine how much tourists would be willing to pay for locally certified organic foods
Informal and semi-structured interviews with officials of the agricultural and tourism sectors
Informal and semi-structured interviews with the administrators and employees of selected tourist resorts and tourism companies (Cubanacan, Gaviota, Rumbos)
Surveys of tourists in selected tourist resorts in Cienfuegos and Trinidad (south coast)-To be conducted in November Selection will be made to include:
3, 4 and 5 star categories
Resorts dedicated to different nationalities
Resorts of eco-touristic nature
Due to the impressive growth in demand for organic foods that is currently being experienced on a worldwide scale it is expected that tourists visiting Cuba (especially from Europe) will have an interest in consuming locally produced organic foods
The development of eco-tourism, agrotourism and health tourism in Cuba is likely to attract tourists interested in consuming organic foods during their holidays
Reference to previous study:
According to the results of a study titled “Factibilidad de la introducción de los alimentos ecológicos en el sector turístico Cubano” (Y. Baques, C. Livia Fernandez y Acela Matamoros) Conducted in 1998 in Havana, Cuba:
The majority of tourists surveyed (48.4 percent) claimed that they preferred to consume organic products versus conventional
The question is: are they willing to put these statements into action?
Growth of Tourism in Cuba:
Source: Financial Bank of Cuba
Average tourist spends US$90.4 per day
Prospects for Cuban Tourism
There exist 227 hotels reaching a total of 29 000 hotel rooms and current plans call for the addition of 3 000-4 000 rooms per year
By the year 2005 they are expecting to receive 3.5 million visitors and up to 5-6 million by 2010
Strategic plan for the tourism industry involves diversification from beach tourism to other activities (ecological, cultural and health tourism)
Area in production: 655 ha
Principal crop: mango Secondary: avocado, coco and nispero
Plan to develop an area of 67 ha located near the Arimao River into an ecological farm/agrotourist resort
Fruit Enterprise of Cienfuegos
Located in the mountainous region of Escambray
El Nicho is a popular destination for eco-tours
The tourist firm Rumbos operates a small restaurant that offers lunch to tourists
¨Your food is your medicine and your medicine is your food¨
Aim: “raising the quality of life through an efficient combination of preventative medicine, natural medicine and personalized medical attention”
Composed of 36 institutions (24 in the capital and 12 in other provinces)
Includes treatments against: alcoholism and drug addiction, stress, obesity, asthma, night blindness, high blood pressure
In 2000, 3 500 health tourists visited Cuba spending around US$20 million
Fruta Selecta (founded in 1976): national enterprise dedicated to the supply of fresh vegetables and fruits to the tourism sector
- Most sales to tourism are made in US dollars
- In 1996 instituted a point system in US dollars to motivate farmers
Sales of Fruta Selecta National
15 490 113
10 509 481
Sales of Fruta Selecta Cienfuegos
In 2000, approximately 90 percent of produce sold to tourism in Cienfuegos was locally produced
Presently the study is going to be limited to the areas of Cienfuegos and Trinidad (south-central coast) due to time and financial constraints
Future studies to include resorts in Varadero, Health Tourism, restaurants in ecological areas
Pilot project: to establish an organoponico in a resort with the purpose supplying on-site restaurant(s). This way the need for an audit trail would be diminished
The University of Cienfuegos and the School of Tourism “Perla Sur” in Cienfuegos (hopefully in collaboration with academic institutions abroad) will provide continuation to this study.