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 > Capacity development > Voluntary standards & schemes

Voluntary standards and schemes

Origin-linked products ~  © FAO / Emilie Vandecandelaere
Promoting origin-linked products: an opportunity for rural development and local resources conservation

Worldwide, there is increasing social expectation and consumer demand for food and agricultural products that have specific characteristics regarding the final product or production system.

This has led to a growing number of voluntary standards, certifications, labels and regulatory instruments in relation to factors such as preservation of environment, social welfare and equity, traditions and geographical origin, including food safety and nutritional aspects.

The development of these standards has strongly impacted on internal and international markets.

They can be an opportunity for rural development by providing a better income and by contributing to the conservation of local resources.

The proliferation of schemes for such products has, however, been met with various degrees of capability in developing countries.

Consumers and producers

Geographical indications is one of the various voluntary schemes to differentiate a product with its origin-linked quality ~  © FAO / Emilie VandecandelaereFAO has provided member countries with information and technical support on voluntary standards and certification schemes for many years.

In 2007, the Twentieth Session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture recognized the importance of this work and asked FAO to optimize the impact of industry (or voluntary) standards at both ends of the value chain, i.e. consumers and producers.

Our group is contributing to these issues by supporting member countries and value chain actors in setting up and implementing voluntary standards and schemes, taking into account their needs and constraints as well as the international regulatory framework and standards.

In particular we are running a programme to assist member countries in establishing a supportive policy framework and product specifications for the implementation of specific voluntary quality standards and schemes that will contribute to rural development and food security.



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