Agri-environment as a market opportunity

28 September 2011
ITC News

Through its Trade, Climate Change and Environment Programme (TCCEP), ITC is strengthening the competitiveness of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and trade support institutions (TSIs) in agri-environmental sectors in developing countries.

‘Consumer demand for environmentally friendly food offers export opportunities for developing countries. With their organic price premia, these niche markets help reduce poverty in rural areas. Organic farm production also reduces pesticide exposure for farmers and helps them mitigate and adapt to climate change,’ says Alex Kasterine, ITC Senior Adviser for Trade and Environment.

Despite these opportunities, developing countries face a number of obstacles to exporting organic products, including meeting buyers’ demands on quality, a lack of information about requirements and standards, dealing with certification and building relationships with buyers.

With funding from the Government of Denmark, the TCCEP is helping developing countries overcome barriers that result from environment-related standards and as such exploit new market opportunities.

Currently implementing projects in Zambia (organics), Peru (biodiversity products), Kenya (carbon and water standards) and South-East Asia (wildlife trade), the TCCEP delivers technical assistance through:

•  Capacity building  

    – Training exporters, smallholders and collectors in compliance with standards, quality management and achieving market linkages

•  Market information and analysis  

    – Market research (e.g. Trends in the Trade of Certified Coffees)

    – How to Guides (e.g. How to Meet Product Carbon Footprints)

    – An online platform for the organic sector Organic Link (see box).

ITC also supports developing country governments in the formulation of policies that are more favourable towards environmental


Organic Link: Buyers and sellers

Serving as a portal to link potential buyers and sellers of organic products, Organic Link also contains useful information about organic products and markets.

To date, more than 2,000 exporters and importers have registered, resulting in more than US$ 1.5 million worth of new export business in 2010 according to a recent evaluation of the site. Of respondents to the survey, 50% said using the site had led to new business transactions.



CASE STUDY: Organics project Zambia 

In March 2011, ITC, in partnership with the Zambian Development Agency (ZDA), launched a project aimed at raising the incomes of SMEs and organic producers in Zambia. ITC is targeting support to three selected companies and their farmers, with training on certification compliance, quality management and strengthening market linkages. The companies are supplied by some 1,000 smallholder farmers and collectors, 60% of whom are women. The project will result in a more competitive offer for the companies in regional and international sustainability markets and thus raised incomes for farmers. Training sessions are also delivered to the wider Zambian agri-food and natural products community, including 30 companies, non-governmental organizations and producer organizations.

CASE STUDY: Biotrade project Peru 

Health-conscious consumers are driving demand for ‘superfoods’ like Maca and Camu-Camu from Peru. Their sustainable collection by farmers and forest dwellers helps strengthen the economic case for preserving biodiversity-rich ecosystems like the Amazon that are under threat from deforestation.

ITC is working in partnership with Promperu and the German Technical Cooperation Agency GIZ to support SMEs in exporting sustainably sourced natural products to North American markets. In September, the three organizations began to train more than 40 SMEs in key market access requirements. Important issues covered include how to avoid rejection of products by US regulatory authorities over incorrect labeling, and false claims made about health benefits of the product, along with how to comply with sustainability certifications. Following an intensive period of preparation, ITC and Promperu will accompany six SMEs in October to a US trade show for natural products, thus helping Peru build market linkages and increase sales. Future planned activities for both projects include continued provision of market information as well as guidance and capacity building for enhanced export success.