Don’t say COLEACP anymore but COLEAD – Committee Linking Entrepreneurship-Agriculture-Development. On the organisation’s website, the change of name of the implementing agency of the Fit for market Plus programme is presented as “the result of a participatory and iterative process carried out with the marketing committee of the Board of Directors, the team, the members of the association and its main partners. The main motivations/reasons behind the evolution of the name were to represent the mission and vision of the association, to facilitate the understanding and ownership of who we are and what we do, rather than where we do it.”

Zimbabwe: pineapple smallholders achieve organic certification

In August 2021, 45 smallholder pineapple farmers in Rusitu Valley, Chipinge, members of the Rusitu Valley Fruit Growers and Marketing Trust (RVFGMT), received a major boost when they achieved organic certification of their pineapples by Ecocert. The attainment of organic certification is a critical milestone in reaching lucrative global markets for organic fruit.

The long journey to organic certification was impacted by events – the pineapple producers were strongly affected by Cyclone Idai in 2019; and two years later the final auditing process took place at a challenging time as Covid 19 cases spiked in Harare.

In 2019, following the devastation caused by the cyclone, the National Trade Development and Promotion Organisation ZimTrade requested COLEACP support for RVFGMT. Organic certification was prioritised as the key ambition. In collaboration with ZimTrade and other partners, notably including GreenStone Foods (the international offtake market earmarked by the Trust), two years of intensive work, negotiation and cooperation have now resulted in successful certification by Ecocert.

Study tour to Kenya by Somalia’s competent authorities

In the last week of May 2022, Kenya hosted a study tour by the Somalian competent authorities – the Somali Bureau of Standards (SOBS) and the Somali Agricultural Regulatory and Inspection Services (SARIS), part of the Ministry of Agriculture & Irrigation (MoA). They visited the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) among other key stakeholders in the country – the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK)Pest Control Products Board (PCPB)Bureau Veritas and Naivasha VegPro Group.

The tour was supported by COLEACP through Fit For Market SPS, in partnership with the EU SPDI (Support to Policy Dialogue on Investment Climate) programme. The objective was to support the Somali authorities to gain a good understanding of the legal and administrative frameworks involved in the successful functioning of a National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) and of national standards bodies. The goal was to support the country’s competent authorities to develop a joint strategy for the development of technical regulations and standards for plant health inspection services, based on regional and international best practices.

The tour covered a lot of ground, and in particular supported SARIS and SOBS to understand their mandates better and build strong cooperation between the two organisations.

The visit also highlighted that the emergence of export associations for agricultural produce will be key to SARIS’ ability to develop efficient, market demand-driven phytosanitary services. The highly perishable nature of agricultural produce requires close cooperation and partnership between NPPOs and exporters to ensure efficient and effective certification operations that can support the competitiveness of the local industry.

Building an efficient and effective quality infrastructure for agriculture (livestock, crops and fisheries) – the most important sector of the Somali economy – will be an essential ingredient for competitiveness, access to new markets, productivity improvement, innovation of new products, and environmental protection, as well as the health and safety of local and international consumers.