Import/Export Associations

John Unsworth
2nd April 2010


COLEACP (Comité de Liaison Europe-Afrique- Caraïbes-Pacifique) is an inter-professional association of producers, exporters, importers and other stakeholders concerned with promoting horticultural trade between the ACP (African, Caribean and Pacific) states and the EU. It supports actions to make ACP-EU horticultural trade more competitive and to harmonize relations between the trade’s business operators. It encourages the adoption of safe and responsible practices relating to human health and the environment1.

The aim of COLEACP is to facilitate the flow of horticultural trade between the ACP and EU. One element of its work is to identify potential barriers to trade, and then assist the industry to meet or challenge these barriers. During the 1990’s, COLEACP foresaw that new EU food safety regulations could create difficulties for ACP suppliers. Lobbying by the COLEACP led to the creation of the PIP (Pesticides Initiative Programme) specifically to assist ACP producers and exporters and ensure that they were able to comply. The PIP has since successfully supported many companies across the ACP to meet the Regulations. However, the horticultural trade is in a state of change, and in the past 5 years, PIP has identified new elements that are putting pressure on the supply chain. Supporting certification to retail standards by small-scale growers has proved particularly challenging. Experience gained across ACP countries suggests that although technically feasible, many smallholders are unable to maintain certification because of the high cost. To continue supporting the export sector in the future, PIP must identify and document new threats and challenges facing the industry. Two new initiatives have been put in place by PIP in order to assist in this process. The first was the establishment by PIP of a network of key ACP stakeholders from among its extensive contact base. To be able to articulate the problems facing the sector, it is essential that PIP consults with, and truly represent, the views of the people affected. Currently there is frustration among many ACP players, particularly small-scale growers and exporters, that their voice is not being heard. The second is a survey currently in progress of ACP exporters to identify the problems currently confronting them and to understand how they are adapting the way they do business in order to meet new challenges. This work is being done with the assistance of researchers from the OECD and University of Guelph. Information collected through the survey and network will give COLEACP a strong base from which to lobby on behalf of the industry. One of our aims is to ensure that EU retailers, consumers, standard setters and regulatory authorities understand and take into consideration the impact of their practices on ACP suppliers2.

Another of PIP's objectives is to ensure that the specific needs of tropical crops (including minor crops) are taken into account in the harmonisation of regulations in the European Union. To this end, regular meetings have been held with DG Health and Consumer Affairs, as well as with major pesticide manufacturers, who play a decisive role in the process of supporting active substances.

For all the products used in the crop protocols that are not registered in the ACP States concerned, PIP is cooperating with both the pesticide manufacturers and the ACP regulatory authorities to whom registration applications will have to be submitted. PIP is working closely with the EPA in Ghana, the PCPB in Kenya, the TPRI in Tanzania and the ICDCS for the West Africa region.


EurepGAP started in 1997 as an initiative by retailers belonging to the Euro-Retailer Produce Working Group (EUREP). British retailers in conjunction with supermarkets in continental Europe were the driving forces. They reacted on growing concerns by the consumers with product safety, environmental and labour standards and decided to take more responsibility for what happened in the supply chain. On the other side the development of common certification standards were also in the interest of many producers. Those with contractual relations to several retailers complained that they had to undergo multiple audits against different criteria every year. On this background EUREP started to work on harmonized standards and procedures for the development of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in conventional agriculture. The EurepGAP standard is primarily designed to maintain consumer confidence in food quality and food safety. Other important goals are to minimize detrimental environmental impacts of farming operations, optimize the use of inputs and to ensure a responsible approach to worker health and safety4.

In response to the challenges posed by fast changing Crop Protection Product legislation, the EurepGAP Technical and Standards Committee developed guidance notes to help farmers and growers to become more fully aware of the Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in operation in the markets where the product will be sold. The changes have been introduced so that growers develop a high awareness of the MRLs in operation in the countries where the product will be or is likely to be sold. It is important that growers can demonstrate that their produce meets these Country of Destination MRL requirements particularly if the regimes are stricter than those in the country of production. EurepGAP stresses the importance of residue screening and it provides further re-assurance where the exact destination of the product is not known. EurepGAP also produced a list of contacts where growers can find the most up to date information concerning MRLs. This will help growers to meet the challenges posed by legislative requirements5.


[1]. COLECAP - An interprofessional network promoting sustainable horticultural trade

2 . PIP Quality and Conformity, Fruit & Vegetables


4. EUREPGAP Documents

Last modified 2nd April 2010


Date added: 2009-11-03 18:50:30   
Last Updated 2011-01-10 16:55:11   
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