EU Commission threatens the existence of small farmers in the South
by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)
Planned detailed regulations for the new EU eco-regulation would multiply the certification costs for small farmers. Naturland and other fair trade organizations warn against this.
In order to be able to afford organic certification at all, the following rule applies for small farmers who produce coffee, rice, bananas or spices in the countries of the South: The small farmers join together in a cooperative that sets up an internal control system (ICS) to ensure that the farmers comply with the organic rules. The EU-approved organic inspection body does not have to inspect each individual micro-farm, but checks whether the ICS is working. In addition, risk-based spot checks are carried out on some farmers and raw material analyses are carried out.
More controls and analyses
"The EU Commission's plans now include setting the minimum number of individual checks and raw material analyses at five and two percent respectively, regardless of the risk. In addition, a cooperative should only be allowed to have a maximum of 2,000 members", Naturland writes. This is completely out of touch with reality in many countries of the South with thousands of micro businesses. "The EU's proposals mean that in future cooperatives will have to spend their scarce resources on unnecessary new administrative structures and higher certification costs instead of concentrating on training their members and further developing their internal control system", warns Naturland's managing director Steffen Reese.
Costs would quadruple
What the planned changes could mean in practice was extrapolated by the fair trade company GEPA using the example of Naturland's fair trade certified Ankole Coffee Producers' Cooperative Union (ACPCU) in Uganda, writes Naturland. According to this, the annual costs for control and analysis for the approximately 8,200 smallholders so far amount to 12,000 euros. The plans of the EU Commission would result in these costs more than quadrupling, to a total of around 50,000 euros.
In a joint letter, Naturland, the German Fair Trade Forum, the fair trade house GEPA and Fairtrade Germany have therefore appealed to the German Federal Minister of Agriculture, Julia Klöckner, to lobby for more practicable solutions in Brussels.