Good agricultural practices: challenge and opportunity for developing countries

GLOBAL - Good agricultural practices can help developing countries cope with globalization while not compromising their sustainable development objectives, according to a seminar held yesterday at the FAO’s headquarters.
calendar icon 15 January 2007
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Developing countries are faced with increasingly changing international and domestic food markets and a proliferation of standards and codes, including those on good agricultural practices (GAP). Those standards generate increasing challenges for developing countries to penetrate rich countries’ markets, but also create opportunities for improvement.

“The terminology good agricultural practices is now most commonly used to designate codes of agricultural production methods for implementation at farm level, which are promoted by many governments, retailers, exporters, producers, academia and other actors in the agricultural sector around the world,” FAO expert Anne-Sophie Poisot said.

“FAO has an important facilitating role to play in helping public and private stakeholders work together and find win-win situations for the implementation of good agricultural practices in the specific contexts of developing countries,” Poisot also said. “FAO’s approach is voluntary and would not lead to new international standards or codes, but it is consistent with existing international regulatory frameworks.”

FAO provides governments, non-government organizations, local communities and other stakeholders with information, technical and policy assistance as well as capacity building on locally appropriate practices which are adapted to a range of farmers with different objectives, from smallholders which produce for the domestic markets to export-oriented estates.

Sustainable agricultural and rural development

“GAP can help promote sustainable agriculture and contribute to a better environmental and social development at both national and international levels,” explained Paola Termine from FAO’s Sustainable Agricultural and Rural Development Programme.

“For example, improvements in agricultural practices, such as integrated production and pest management, can lead to substantial improvements not only in terms of yield and production efficiencies but also in health and safety of workers,” Termine said.

In recent years, FAO launched many initiatives to support the adoption of good agricultural practices and to help institutions implement them in developing countries. National workshops, projects and other activities were organized in Burkina Faso, Uganda, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Thailand, Chile and other countries.

Electronic conferences and regional training courses on safety and quality of fresh fruits and vegetables were also organized and will continue to take place in several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.

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