Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP) South Africa: 1st National Stakeholder Workshop, 29 January 2015
The first stakeholder involvement workshop for the GE-TOP South Africa took place on 29 January 2015 in the boardroom of the National Agricultural Marketing Council in Pretoria. About 20 participants from various official departments, certification bodies and industry associations participated in the workshop to kick-off the GE-TOP country study jointly developed by tralac and UNEP.
The full day workshop was accompanied by presentations from delegates. The Q&A session and discussions opened up areas of collaboration, and feedback will be considered and implemented, within the scope and as the study progresses.
Overview of workshop presentations
Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga, Head of UNEP country office in South Africa, made opening remarks regarding the national work UNEP is undertaking in the area of the green economy in general, and through the Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP) specifically.
Lennart Kuntze from UNEP discussed the global GE-TOP, with a focus on South Africa. The global GE-TOP is currently in its second phase which applies the conceptual framework of the report ‘Green Economy and Trade – Trends, Challenges and Opportunities’ to the national context of five partner countries, namely Chile, Ghana, Peru, South Africa and Viet Nam, in respective national high-potential sectors. The GE-TOP South Africa focuses on identifying trade opportunities from a shift to organic farming in the agricultural and agro-processing sector.
Armin Roggendorf from Afri-trade provided background information to and initial key findings for the GE-TOP South Africa study. The national GE-TOP study analyses organic agricultural production as a driver for sustainable trade, economic growth, employment creation and environmentally-friendly production practices.
Thembelihle Ndukwana from the Dti presented on the work being done in the organic sector by the Department based on the findings of the 2008 FRIDGE study and the 2012 Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP). The Organic Retailer Programme was launched in March 2012 to link small scale organic farmers and cooperatives with retail supermarkets and guarantee credibility of the quality of products to the highest standard. However, various challenges were experienced in the implementation of the Programme.
Gordon Gleimius of the Dti presented the export promotion and marketing activities, initiatives and services the Department provides for South African producers, manufacturers and exporters.
Konrad Hauptfleisch of IFOAM looked at organic agriculture in South Africa, the EU and East Africa. Agricultural producers in many East African countries have been successful in taking advantage of the increased demand for organic products. This has mainly been attributed to trade and export promotion, capacity building support from various donors (incl. UNEP, UNCTAD), the development of various organic movements across east African countries, the development and implementation of organic standards and the creation of consumer awareness. In comparison with east Africa, the current picture of organic agriculture in South Africa is quite bleak.
Arianna Baldo of Fairtrade presented a case study regarding the market access opportunities available in international markets through certification. Fairtrade is an ethical certification aimed at promoting equality and sustainability in the farming sector by improving the working and living conditions of farm workers and emphasising sustainable farming.
Stakeholder Group Discussions
During the lively inter-stakeholder discussions and Q&A segments subsequent to each presentation, the following questions surfaced about the GE-TOP South Africa:
What is the role of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the scope of the study?
What is the rationale for choosing the specific products included in the study?
Based on the current energy crises in South Africa, why focus on the potential of organic agriculture rather than the renewable energy market?
What is the motivation for choosing the export markets of the EU and EFTA? Why not other emerging economies like China, India or Brazil?
Is the study limited to organic agricultural production, or will wild harvest and medicinal plants also be included?
To what extent has there been progress in drafting organic regulations in South Africa? If organic standards or regulations are drafted and implemented, to what extent will these legal instruments contribute to export promotion? Until such a time that standards and/or regulations are in place, what can be utilized to fill this void?
Discussions also identified a magnitude of areas specific to organic agriculture and socio-economic development for future research and exploration:
The impact of production and export promotion of organic vegetable farming on the socio-economic development and poverty alleviation among small scale and cooperative farmers located in remote rural areas.
Developing a programme for the promotion of small scale organic farming.
What are the implications of organic farming (for small, medium and large scale) and trade for the larger social dimension relating to the role of women in farming, education, nutrition dietary requirements and correctional services programmes.
What are the opportunities to link small scale organic farming and agro-processing with activities related to eco-tourism?
- How do you promote domestic small scale or cooperative organic farming and agro-processing to create access to local, regional and international markets that will lead to direct socio-economic benefits for the communities?