Increasing incomes of farmers

Organic and fair-trade exports from Africa



Over the course of the project, many lessons were learnt regarding the exportation of organic and fair-trade products from West and Central Africa to western markets. To capitalize on these experiences and ensure that the know-how gathered through the project is available to all exporters interested in exporting organic or fair-trade products from Africa or elsewhere, FAO decided to compile an export guide or "Guide for Decision Makers", which is now available from this webpage.

The guide is conceived as a practical, easy-to-use document. It is divided into seven separate modules which address the process of getting ready to export from different angles, including: before you start; producer group or company management; business planning; financial management; training; certification; and market research and marketing. Although they may of course be read consecutively, these various chapters are rather meant to be used fragmentarily, depending upon the user’s needs of the moment.

Each of the Modules can be downloaded separately by clicking on the pdf-icons below.

To download the entire Guide as one single document, click here:     


Cover pages         



This guide was developed for farmer organizations and companies wishing to export organic and fair-trade certified products, as well as for organizations providing them with support services. The guide is divided into seven separate modules which address the process of getting ready to export from different angles. Although the guide may of course be read in its entirety, these various modules are rather meant to be used fragmentarily, depending upon the user’s needs of the moment.


This Module provides you with the tools necessary to carry out a preliminary auto-evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your organization and product by using the 5M-approach, as well as analyse the opportunities and challenges presented by the market. In a next step, you will learn how to bring the auto-evaluation and market analysis together by using a SWOT-analysis. Finally, this Module will help you select the type of supply chain structure that is most suited to your type of organization. At the end of the Module, you should be able to answer a number of basic questions, for example regarding the type of relationship between your organization and your exporter/supplier, your target market, and the choice of a certification scheme.

  • Introduction
  • The 5M-approach
  • Market research
  • Combining self-evaluation and market research
  • Information for business support organizations


Module 2 is aimed at producer organizations which lack business experience, as well as organizations which have hitherto been operating in an informal manner. The Module will assist you in drafting a constitution and by-laws for your organization, recruiting and training staff members and keeping records. The final section of the Module discusses your organization’s external relations i.e. with suppliers, support organizations, buyers and competitors.

  • Constitution and by-laws/registration
  • Recruiting, training, managing and keeping staff
  • Record keeping
  • External relations


Module 3 will help you to go from developing a vision (Module 1) to “making it happen”. The Module will help you develop a strategic plan for your organization and draft an action plan and checklist for your organization’s activities. Module 3 is very short because it merely sketches an outline of the issues involved; detailed information can be found by accessing the links and documents referred to in the Module.

  • Strategic planning
  • Operational planning


Module 4 will introduce you to the principles of basic bookkeeping, and teach you how to carry out a cost-benefit analysis of production / certification and conduct a basic cash flow analysis. The Module translates these theoretical tools into concrete actions which you may take to improve your organization’s financial situation, for example by reducing costs or setting an optimal sales price.

  • Basic bookkeeping
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Cost-benefit analysis of certification
  • Cash flow analysis
  • From analysis to action

MODULE 5 – TRAINING           

Module 5 presents some of the training material that was used during the project in West- and Central Africa and may prove useful for other organizations too. It contains references to training materials on organic production and HACCP principles, and presents the farmer-field-school method, a group-based training approach developed by the FAO.

  • Organic production
  • Farmer field school programmes
  • Training on processing and packaging: HACCP


While Module 1 briefly touched upon the choice of a certification scheme, and Module 4 looked into the costs and benefits of certification, Module 6 discusses organic, fair-trade and GLOBALGAP certification in greater detail. The Module provides an introduction to quality management systems (QMS) and discusses the requirements and preparation for group certification. The Module will help you to determine whether your organization should try to obtain organic and/or fair-trade certification, and how to start the process of preparation for certification. It will assist you in selecting the standard that is most appropriate for your organization, dealing with certification bodies and inspectors and developing an internal control system (ICS).

  • Quality management systems
  • Group certification
  • Organic certification
  • Fair-trade certification
  • Information for business support organizations


Module 1 introduced a number of basic market research tools that may help you to make initial choices about your preferred position in the supply chain, your target markets and certification schemes of choice.  Module 7 discusses market research techniques in greater detail. You will learn how to conduct market research according to a six-step approach, and draft an export marketing plan based on the information gathered through the research. Your export marketing plan will outline how your organization will mould the four controllable variables of marketing (product, price, place and promotion) to best meet the needs of its customers, according to the 4P-approach. The Module closes with a chapter on how to manage your trade relations.

  • Market research
  • Developing an export plan
  • Managing your trade relations


The Annexes of this guide contain the following sections:

  • - Organizations: a list of abbreviations.
  • - Terms and definitions: glossary of technical terms used in the manual
  • - Additional resources: links to manuals, brochures, training material, portal websites, etc. where you can find additional information regarding producer organizations (creation, management, marketing), business management, market research and marketing, entrepreneurship, strategic and export planning, e-business, standards, quality management, and certification.
  • - Annexes to Module 4 (Financial management) (Excel-worksheets for cost-benefit analysis).



Copies of this guide can be requested from:

Sales and Marketing Group

Publishing Policy and Support Branch

Office of Knowledge Exchange, Research and Extension

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations E-mail: [email protected]

Viale delle Terme di Caracalla Fax: (+39) 06 57053360

00153 Rome, Italy

Website: <>



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