The organic fruit and vegetable market offers significant potential for countries to increase their export earnings and diversify their agricultural base, according to a new Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report titled World Markets for Organic Fruit and Vegetables.
"Strong and steady growth in the sales of organic foods have provided these products with a viable and value-added market niche," said the 312-page report, jointly published by the FAO, the International Trade Centre and the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.
The report provides detailed information about the demand for the products in the world's largest organic markets, being the US, Japan and European Community countries.
It also analyses the prospects for further growth in sales. The report lists contact information of organisations in the organic sector, references and web pages. The report contains case studies of the organic sector in seven developing countries.
"The economies of many developing countries are dependent on the export of a relatively small number of (mostly agricultural) commodities...Diversification of agricultural production is of utmost importance.
Consumption of organic foods is expected to outgrow domestic production in developed countries, which will leave room for significant organic imports,"the report highlighted.
The report did sound a note of caution. It emphasised that developing the organic sector can be difficult and risky, especially since producers often face regulatory and psychological obstacles relating to consumer's attitudes about organic food.
On the legal front, producers must adhere to strict standards. In addition, developed countries may not want to accept products from developing countries, for they may not trust the organic certification systems of these products. Added to this is the fact that decision makers in the public and private sector in developing countries often lack, the report claims, the necessary information to make decisions regarding the development of organic production.