The agriculture sector is the backbone of most developing and emerging countries and can also benefit from the rapidly growing European Union (EU) market for organic products. From 2022 on, a new organic regulation within the EU will apply. To further support developing and emerging countries tap into the EU market, a series of webinars has highlighted the changes in the new EU organic regulation, given details on how to obtain an organic certification and provided advice to African firms exporting to Europe. The series has been organised and funded by the Business Scouts for Development together with the Alliance for Product Quality in Africa.
Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. The EU market for organic products has been growing rapidly over the last decade and this trend is expected to continue, since consumers are more and more interested in healthy food which is also produced in an environmentally friendly manner.
The EU has set itself a target of 25% agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 in the “Farm to Fork strategy”, meaning that also farmers, processers and traders from emerging and developing countries can profit from the growing market. For African countries in particular new income possibilities emerge from organic crops that cannot be grown in Europe, for example tropical crops like coffee, cacao, spices, olive oil, fruits, or even products from wild collection. So far, however, only 0.2% of agricultural land in Africa is certified as organic, accounting for only 3% of the organic land worldwide. This low percentage is mainly due to a knowledge gap on organic practices and organic regulations.
Picture 1: © GIZ/Thomas Imo/photothek.net
The EU-Organic Regulation is the legal basis that defines which products can be marketed as organic within the EU, including those that have been imported from non-EU countries. The regulation is constantly being developed further to include new findings from the implementation in practice and from research. This has led to the new EU organic regulation (EU 2018/848) which must be adopted from 2022 onwards (with a transition period). Several changes in the regulation will apply from next year onwards, which will touch key aspects such as production, processing, group certification, documentation and imports.
To facilitate the entry of African companies and producers into the European organic market the Business Scouts for Development and the Alliance for Product Quality have offered a webinar series on the EU-Organic Regulation. The series was free of charge and informed on the legislative changes and how to implement them in practice. The target group were companies and farmers in the agricultural sector in Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Namibia, Ruanda, Senegal, Tunisia and Uganda. Both companies that are already organic certified and companies that wish to get certified were invited to participate.
The virtual courses has been offered in Arabic, English and French.
The Alliance for Product Quality with the Business Scouts for Development were jointly implementing the virtual training sessions that started on October 25th, 2021.
Three webinars, with the following content, were organised:
Webinar 1: Introductory webinar, providing an overview of the EU organic regulations, highlighting the planned changes in the regulation, and how to get organic certification.
Webinar 2: In-depth webinar on the topic of regulation and certification for organic plant production (including topics such as group certification, wild collection, processing).
Webinar 3: Introduction to the topic of export market connections, market entry options and business opportunities in Germany/Europe for African companies.
Business Scouts for Development work as development policy experts in around 40 countries across the globe. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), they advise German, European and local companies on development policy matters and promote responsible business engagement through cooperation projects.
The Alliance for Product Quality is a multi-stakeholder partnership and part of the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation of the BMZ. It is dedicated to improving product quality in selected African countries, for example of organic food and agriculture products. Within the Alliance, GIZ works hand in hand with the National Metrology Institute of Germany (PTB) and implements activities together with German, European and African companies, business associations, specialist institutions and other development cooperation stakeholders.
Headerphoto: © GIZ