Members of the European Parliament have voted to reject the European Commission proposal to allow member states to limit or ban imports of genetically modified food and feed. MEPs in the Agriculture Committee argue that national bans could distort competition on the EU's single market and undermine the European food and feed sector, which currently, is heavily reliant on imported GMOs.
The European Parliament has a new publication, which defines and outlines unfair trading practices in business-to-business food supply chains. While a large chunk of EU agri/food products stay within the EU’s internal market, up to 30% are destined for export to third countries. Whether internally or externally, unfair trading practices lead to market distortions, which have negative effects on the food supply chain as a whole. This publication adds to a body of work that has been developed on unfair trading practices in the food sector since the issue was first discussed in 2009.
The European Union’s Rapid Alert System for food has detected excessive levels of chemical contaminants in Nigerian food exports of beans, melon seeds, sweet potatoes, cashew kernels, dried fish and meat, peanut chips, nutmeg, soft drinks and sesame seeds. The discovery has prompted the EU to ban import of these foods until the pesticide level reaches a “safe” limit of 01. mg per kilogram. The EU which has issued 50 notifications to Nigerian beans exporters since January 2013 and shall uphold the ban until June 2016.
Sugar is a sensitive product for many African countries and therefore attracts relatively higher tariffs in the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) trade regimes. In Kenya alone, the sugar sector contributes over 15 % of the agricultural GDP and provides income to about 250,000 small-scale farmers. The total contribution of the sugar sector in the country supports an estimated 10 million people. Since March 2002, Kenya has been imposing safeguards on sugar imports courtesy of Article 61 of the Comesa Treaty that provides for safeguard measures for domestic industries that need international protection until they become mature and stable.
The Jamaican Government plans to expand the cassava industry in partnerships with the private sector partner Jamaican beer Red Stripe and the University of the West Indies, with support from the Colombian government. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, said the partnership between government and the manufacturer of red Stripe, which is using the tuber as part of its brewing process, has shown that the industry can grow. PM Miller stated, “As this new industry develops, I look forward to the opening soon, of a new cassava processing plant in Elim, St. Elizabeth, and thanks to the Government of Colombia for having provided this gift."
In recent years, Aflatoxin contamination in food grain and feed in Kenya has become a major health concern. However, Kenya recently approved the use of Aflasafe - a product that combats aflatoxin poisoning - by farmers. This decision is expected to have a major impact in the agricultural, public health and trade sectors. This builds on ongoing work by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, which already dedicated Ksh1.5 billion ($15 million) for aflatoxin mitigation in the country. The Pest Control Board approved the registration of Aflasafe, which was developed by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock research Organisation.
New EU data shows that 10 product categories account for 48% of EU agri-food exports in 2014, new figures from the EU show. 4 out of the 10 most important export categories belong to the product group ‘agricultural food and feed products’ (i.e. farm production) and 6 originate from the group ‘food preparations and beverages’ (i.e. food and drink industry). The top 10 product categories are: Spirits 8% (wines & liqueurs); Wine 8% (cider & vinegar); Wheat 8%; Infant formula 5%; Food preparations 4%; Milk powders and whey 4%; Chocolate and ice-cream 4%; Pasta and pastries and breads 4%; Vegetables 3%; Pork meat 3%.
Fisheries and aquaculture ministers from the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) called on the European Union, United Nations, World Bank and other bodies to provide adequate financial resources for the implementation of the Strategic Action Plan for Fisheries and Aquaculture adopted in Fiji in 2012. The ACP ministers urged the international community to agree to concrete actions to reduce the effects of climate change at the COP21 and to cooperate more closely with African, Caribbean and Pacific nations on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and piracy. The group also called on the EU for support on dealing with the erosion of preferential tariffs for exports to EU markets from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
Julius Garvey, son of pioneering black rights activist Marcus Garvey, called for a greater emphasis on agriculture as the key to restructure the colonial economy and to strive for sustainable development. Using the example of breadfruit, Garvey noted how rich an diverse the local vegetable was: it is gluten-free, has a lower glycaemic index and it is nutritionally superior to wheat and with other measures will combat obesity and its derivative non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, heart-attacks and stroke. He noted that it could be a catalyst in reducing the regions high import bills and for diversifying exports.
Randolf Aaldijk of Origin Fruit Direct explains that sales of South Africna citrus are high and export is being well regulated. Aaldijk highlighted that while "the Black Spot measures continue to hover over the market like the sword of Damocles (…) it's admirable how much time, money and effort the South African growers are investing to control Black Spot, because it's not easy for them with all those conditions." He adds, "the earnings are a lot lower an the exchange rate of Euro-Rand is still reasonably favourable." While South Africa is exporting to new market destinations, the EU nevertheless remains an important market and reliable trade partner.