A Project of FAO, IFOAM, and UNCTAD

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Project Overview

Organic agriculture and trade afford the world a high level of agro-ecosystem services, and present social and economic opportunities for people, especially those in need of food security and ways out of poverty.

Among the foremost challenges for the further development of organic agriculture is that trade pathways have become entangled with multiple organic standards and technical regulations. A product produced according to one set of organic standards and certification requirements may also need to comply with other organic standards and requirements in order to be traded. The labyrinth of requirements in both government and private sectors constitutes an obstacle to trade, which constrains organic market development and denies market access to many, including hundreds-of-thousands of small producers in developing countries.

The Global Organic Market Access (GOMA) project seeks to simplify the process for trade flow of organic products among various regulatory and/or private organic guarantee systems. GOMA focuses on harmonization and equivalence of organic standards and certification performance requirements as mechanisms for clearing trade pathways. It provides two practical tools for this purpose. The tools were developed by the International Task Force on Harmonization and Equivalence in Organic Agriculture (ITF), comprised of representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations and private sector representatives, and subjected to international consultation. The Guide for Assessing Equivalence of Standards and Technical Regulations (EquiTool) and the International Requirements for Organic Certification Bodies (IROCB) can be used by any government or private sector organic label scheme as tools for recognizing other organic standards and certification performance requirements as equivalent to their own.

Project activities include:

  • outreach to share knowledge about the tools and possibilities for cooperation;
  • pilot projects to test the tools in various environments;
  • technical assistance to governments and private sector stakeholders to implement the tools and related recommendations;
  • facilitation of new regional initiatives for cooperation on harmonized organic standards development and multi-lateral equivalence;
  • analysis of the organic trade system and evaluation of the trade-facilitating tools.

GOMA is overseen by a steering committee comprised of representatives from FAO, IFOAM and UNCTAD. The project is funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

Contact: Diane Bowen, Project Manager