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Chapter 7
Conclusions and recommendations


1. The main ingredients of bird food are small grains of tropical and subtropical origin or small grains which could be grown in the tropics and subtropics. This opens possibilities for farmers and entrepreneurs in developing countries to participate in the production, processing and marketing of these grains.

2. The main market for bird food is in the northern hemisphere with the United States of America accounting for 50 percent of world consumption. Brokers and packers source substantial amounts of small seeded grains from developing countries to supply this market. There are also emerging markets in developing countries and countries in transition which opens possibilities for grains to be grown and packed locally.

3. In the bird seed trade long-term relationships based on mutual trust are a necessity because communication between buyer and seller is sometimes difficult, supply routes are long and difficult, and volumes traded are low. Also, because most commodities used for bird food have no international standards, they are traded on the basis of samples.

4. The participation of developing countries in the trading of bird food ingredients has the potential to increase, especially for high value seeds such as Niger seed and canary seed. Increased supply and lower prices will have a positive impact on the amount of these seeds that are used by packers, while a spread in production geography will take some of the supply uncertainty out of the market.

5. Bird food packers are continuously looking for novelties that help them to segment the market and differentiate their product from competitors. This opens possibilities for under-utilized crops in developing countries. However, all new crops must first undergo rigorous testing to assess their suitability for use. Packers demand a steady flow of material of consistent quality, which producers must guarantee to meet.

6. Although specific quality standards for bird food do not exist, there is a growing tendency by packers to ask for traceability. This applies especially to animal feed producers for whom bird food is a secondary business.

7. For producers in developing countries to be successful in the international trade in bird food, attention must be paid to the following:


1. The emergence of bird food markets in developing countries and countries in transition needs to be studied in more detail to better understand the potential production and marketing possibilities within these countries.

2. Interested producers in Africa, Asia and Latin America should make contact with the major international brokers or packers to find out their specifications regarding quality, quantity, etc. These brokers and packers already source substantial quantities of raw materials from developing countries and it is possible they may be interested in expanding their sources of supplies of raw materials such as Niger seed, canary seed, proso and Japanese millet. They may even be interested in contracting production.

3. Long-term relationships between buyers and producers should be emphasized. This assures the producers of a reliable outlet for their production and the buyers of a reliable source of high quality product. These relationships, based on mutual trust, are especially important for commodities for which there are no international quality standards and which are traded on the basis of a sample.

4. Potential suppliers should obtain as much information from prospective buyers as possible regarding colour, specific weight, purity, etc. Although there are no published international standards for bird food commodities, product specifications set by packers and distributors are high. Specifications can differ from country to country and are often based on particular consumer preferences and traditions.

5. New varieties of the crops used for bird seed should be tested for local adaptation. Appendix 3 lists the public institutes that hold germplasm accessions or which have developed improved varieties.

6. It is recommended that prospective producers gather as much information as possible about agronomic trials and crop responses to improved management in order to produce crops competitively. Good sources for information on underutilized crops are available at FAO Rome and Purdue University in the United States of America[24].

7. There is a growing market for organically produced bird food ingredients. China is currently a major supplier but there could be possibilities for other developing countries. To be able to supply organically grown bird food, internationally recognized certification agencies need to be identified in the countries of origin.

[24] and

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