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EDITO
Wednesday, 13 December 2017

In 2015, Spain was still the EU country with the most acreage devoted to organic crops, with 1.9 million hectares; 22% more than in 2010, according to data released by the EU statistics office, Eurostat. Specifically, Spain went from 1.6 to 1.9 million hectares in five years. Next in the rankings are: Italy (about 1.5 million hectares), France (1.3 million) and Germany (1 million hectares), according to Eurostat data. In 2015, the EU had a total of 11.1 million hectares of such crops, which is 21.1% more than five years earlier. When compared to the total agricultural area, the largest acreage devoted to organic crops is that of Austria (where they account for 20.3% of the total cultivated area), Sweden (17%) and Estonia (16%).

UNCTAD is set to support Central African countries cut the costs of their cross-border trade, after signing a three-year $420,000 deal with the European Union in Brussels last week. The grant enables UNCTAD to help countries comply with various trade regulations, including the Trade Facilitation Agreement, a World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement, that will streamline import, export and transit procedures between the WTO’s 162 members. The agreement could increase the value of global merchandise exports by up to $1 trillion a year, according to the WTO.

The Ministerial Council of the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), the top policy and decision-making arm of the CARICOM agency, met on Thursday in Grand Cayman for its sixth special meeting. The meeting was held as part of the Caribbean Week of Agriculture, which is hosted in the Cayman Islands under the theme “Investing in Food and Agriculture”. High on the Ministerial Council’s agenda are plans to develop marine capture fisheries and aquaculture across the Caribbean, with the aim of reducing the region’s US$4 billion food import bill, while building a Caribbean seafood cuisine brand that the region and the world can embrace as a safe and healthy choice.

While poultry farms are making serious efforts, including financial investments, to make the region self-sufficient, several issues such as illegal imports from Brazil and cheap ‘dump chicken’ from the US are harming the industry, local entrepreneurs say. According to Trevin Nairne, export manager with Jamaica Broilers, throughout the Caribbean B-grade chicken is being imported from the US “that clearly is being dumped”. Meanwhile, Brazilian, Mexican and Chilean chicken is also entering the regional market. Nairne wondered how it is possible that a large facility such as Jamaica Broilers, which produces high quality products, exists in the region and yet inferior quality chicken is allowed to enter the regional market.

East Africa received a mixed bag of results in doing business in the latest report by World Bank; with Rwanda and Kenya leading while Burundi, South Sudan and Somalia brought up the rear. The World Bank cited implementation of projects meant to improve trading across borders as key to the good showing while civil strife hampered those countries that did poorly. According to the World Bank's Doing Business 2017 report, Rwanda -- ranked 56 from last year's 59 -- remains the easiest place to start a business in the region. Rwanda is also the second easiest country within which to do business in sub-Saharan Africa after Mauritius, which is ranked 49th.