Getting small farmers´ organic food into supermarkets

Organic farming is a promising pursuit for small farmers in many of the world´s poorer nations. Demand for organic produce is growing, and customers pay higher prices for these goods. With some training, farmers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America - who already have experience in growing without pesticides and other chemicals and who tend their small plots diligently - can meet standards for organic crops. But now as supermarkets account for an increasing share of organic sales, producers must also meet supermarkets´ own standards, such as Global GAP, which have stringent health and safety requirements for fresh produce. With their vast clientele, these chains are where developing-country farmers want to do business.
Agricultural experts and government officials met at UNCTAD´s Geneva headquarters on 10-11 December 2009 to discuss how organic food standards and GLOBALGAP, for global "good agricultural practices" might be reconciled. To prepare the way, UNCTAD commissioned a study to find common ground between GLOBALGAP and a sample regional organic standard (in this case, the standard of the European Union).
The Ad hoc Expert Meeting on Facilitating Access of Small Organic Farmers in Developing Countries to Supermarket Shelves will discuss how farmers might meet GLOBALGAP and organic standards without having to go through two costly certification processes and two sets of inspections - a combination that can be too expensive and demanding for small farmers in poor nations. Experts reviewed the findings of the comparative study; debated practical options for achieving "partial equivalence" between GLOBALGAP and organic certification systems or other arrangements to streamline the certification process for dual certifications; and sought to establish a "road map" of activities for achieving a scheme that is affordable to small farmers. Experts presented, also, brief papers on company and country-level experiences with multiple inspections and certifications - and possible simplified approaches.

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