Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP) South Africa: 2nd National Stakeholder Workshop, 11 August 2015
The second stakeholder involvement workshop for the GE-TOP South Africa took place on 11 August 2015 at the Spier Wine Estate outside Stellenbosch, Cape Town. About 35 participants from various government departments, certification bodies, academia, farmers and processors, traders and value chain advisors, as well as local and international organizations participated in the workshop. The objectives of the workshop were to:
Present the draft analysis and initial findings and recommendations of the national GE-TOP study,
Stimulate open stakeholder discussion on selected aspects of organic agriculture in South Africa,
Provide a forum for stakeholders to exchange experiences, ideas and challenges related to current and emerging issues associated with trade opportunities from a shift to a sustainable agriculture.
The full day workshop was accompanied by presentations from delegates. The Q&A session and panel discussions opened up areas of collaboration, capacity building and feedback to be considered and implemented to inform the finalization of the study.
The stakeholder workshop was structured as follows:
Session 1: Trudi Hartzenberg (tralac) and Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga (UNEP South Africa) welcomed the participants and introduced the GE-TOP from a global perspective. Both made references to the global trade and sustainability agenda relevant for South Africa.
Session 2 was led by the question how organic farming practices can be promoted in South Africa to harness international export opportunities and related Green Economy benefits. Lennart Kuntze (UNEP ETB) presented the trade and green economy nexus, explained the global GE-TOP project, tracked the green economy evolution in South Africa and eluded to further UNEP project activities in organic agriculture.
Willemien Viljoen (tralac) explained the situation of organic agriculture in South Africa, highlighting aspects for primary products. Armin Roggendorf (Afri-Trade) provided an overview of the EU organic market and how export opportunities can be realized at company level. Further, he explained a UNEP cost-benefit analysis methodology, highlighting aspects relevant for organic sector development in South Africa.
Session 3 discussed the Regulatory Environment for Organic Farming in South Africa. The session involved three members of the SABS technical committee, namely Sue Jackson from Wensleydale Organics; Hans Klink from Agro-Organics; and Alan Rosenberg from Lindros Earth Consultants / South African Organic Sector Organisation.
The group discussed whether national standards facilitate organic sector development. They provided an overview of the regulatory environment, and highlighted the issue in publishing the draft organic standard. The group concluded that standards contribute to establish consumer confidence and development of trade and manufacturing opportunities, and thereby can indeed facilitate organic sector development.
Session 4 discussed Sustainability Certification in South Africa and involved three organic certification bodies and a sustainability standard programme, namely Dr Marianna Smith from Ecocert; Lisa Ryser from UTZ Certified, Sönke Hobbensiefken from Ceres Cert, and Werner Euler from Control Union. A leading aim of this session was identifying what would be required to support South African organic farmers. Certification body representatives further explained challenges of certification bodies, especially the common misunderstanding that they would be able to consult and guide farmers towards compliance.
Session 5 opened the floor to re-cap on themes of the day, and how the workshop could best inform finalization of the GE-TOP study as well as contribute to an organic industry development in South Africa.