Experts from the Americas meet to promote the development of organic agriculture
San Jose, Costa Rica, September 02 2010 (IICA). From September 7 to 11, Mexico City will be the site of the Second Annual Meeting of the Inter-American Commission for Organic Agriculture (ICOA), to be attended by 18 delegations from countries of the America who will discuss fundamental aspects of the development of organic agriculture in the Americas.
The ICOA was created in 2008 by the Ministers of Agriculture, through the Executive Committee of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), with a view to contributing to the development of organic agriculture in the countries and to facilitating trade in such products.
Topics to be discussed during the meeting in Mexico include the ICOA work plan, which will be reviewed in light of the needs of the countries, and technical topics related to the development of local markets, the Codex Alimentarius – codes, guides and other recommendations related to food and food production – and Japanese standards on organic production.
The conversations will also center on the inputs that are permitted in organic agriculture, the mechanisms use to control exports, the implementation of specialized software and a proposal for establishing a mechanism for the exchange of information.
Taking part will be delegations from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru, with the United States, Canada and the Caribbean participating as observers. The Mexican government is hosting the meeting through its National Agrifood Health, Safety and Quality Service (SENASICA).
Organic agriculture in numbers
There are more than 35 million certified hectares worldwide and nearly 1.2 million farmers spread out over 154 countries, and trade in organic products was valued at US$50.9 million in 2008.
Despite the fact that 23% of the certified areas and 18.7% of all organic farmers in the world are located in Latin America and the Caribbean, sales of such products account for less than 5% of the world total.
Organic agriculture is in its infancy, but has great potential; the areas certified as organic represent less than 0.81% of all agricultural land and trade in such products equals only 2.5% of the world food trade.
The ICOA comprises the competent authorities responsible for overseeing organic agriculture in the countries, who are responsible for regulating the activity and guaranteeing the organic nature of the products.
This Commission is the first official regional body working in the field and IICA is responsible for its Technical Secretariat, by mandate of the Inter-American Board of Agriculture (IABA), IICA’s highest governing body. The fist ICOA assembly was held in San Jose, Costa Rica, in November 2009.
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