Tuesday, 27 March 2012 9:02 AM

Pacific Voice Heard at Global Dialogue on Organics

The GOMA (Global Organic Market Access) conference held in Nuremburg, Germany from 13 to 16 February 2012, entitled Let the Good Products Flow, examined the complex issues surrounding organic standards and guarantee systems worldwide, and how these can either support or hinder growth of the organic industry.

The developments and challenges for dominant and emerging exporting/importing economies and for still-developing countries, such as those of the Pacific, were also discussed.

Models of public/private sector and regional cooperation, such as the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and the Pacific Organic Standard (POS), were identified as potential pathways for global solutions to the challenges. In light of this, there is significant interest in the development of a Pacific organic guarantee system and in gauging, over time, the impact on industry development of the POS and POETCom partnership.

The Pacific presentation was made in the session: Developing Countries and the World Organic Market. The session focused on regional collaboration and included the following: Development of the East African Organic Product Standards, Mr David Eboku, Uganda Bureau of Standards; Development of an organic guarantee system for the Pacific, Ms Karen Mapusua, Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, Fiji; Government cooperation in Central America, Ms Elizabeth Ramirez, Ministry of Agriculture, Costa Rica; and Development of the Asian Regional Organic Standard, Ms Lara Vivas, Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards, Philippines.

BioFach, the world's largest organic trade fair, followed the conference. It included the IFOAM Rio+20 dialogue, which focused on further developing the organic movement's advocacy platforms on climate change issues; the EU/US equivalency agreement announcement; and a meeting of the Intercontinental Organization of Organic Farmers Organizations, of which POETCom is a member and the Pacific coordinator.

Participation in BioFach provided the opportunity to see what new developments and products are available in the organic sector. Discussions held with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) confirmed that the assessment undertaken by the International Organic Accreditation Service found the POS equivalent to the IFOAM Family of Standards. Discussions were also furthered with IFOAM on the possibility of mutual recognition by POETCom of all certifying bodies accredited by IFOAM as a way of facilitating organic trade in the region, and a more complete understanding was gained on options for EU organic regulation equivalence to inform the decision-making process and planning for POETcom.

POETCom is the 'governance' body of the organics movement in the Pacific region. Currently the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) is serving as the secretariat of POETCom.

The role of POETcom is to serve as the regional peak body for the organics industry, to advocate at the international level on issues that affect the development of organics in the Pacific region, and to advocate at regional and national levels for the promotion and development of organics to reach the vision: Pacific Organics - the key contributor to sustaining our cultures and improving farmer livelihoods, communities, people's health and the environment in the Pacific.

The POETCom Coordinating Officer Karen Mapusua is part of the European Union funded IACT (Increasing Agricultural Commodity Trade) Project, which is implemented by the Land Resources Division of SPC. Running from June 2011 to May 2015, the IACT Project assists partner enterprises and farmer/producer groups in the Pacific with organic certification.