standards sps

The Second Tripartite Summit, held on 12 June 2011, agreed that Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) negotiations would be undertaken in two phases.  The first phase will focus on trade in goods and will be negotiated within a period of three years.

Trade in goods, however, requires that goods should comply with import rules and regulations, including the technical standards of the importing country.  Some of these technical standards vary from country to country, sometimes creating Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs) and affecting the free flow of goods.  Integrating the Tripartite into a single market requires a well-functioning technical infrastructure, underpinned by harmonized standards.

Imports and exports of agricultural products, on the other hand, have to conform to Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) standards that are applied to protect human, animal or plant health and life.  While legitimate in themselves, these measures can become barriers to trade if they vary from one country to another or if a country lacks the capacity to comply with stringent requirements.  In recognition of these varying SPS standards, paragraph 2 of Article 26 (Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures) of the Tripartite FTA Agreement states that "Tripartite Member States shall harmonise their Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary measures and shall initiate activities to achieve regional certification of products".

TMSA is supporting the Tripartite to eliminate standards and SPS related trade barriers.  Specifically:

  • To develop procedures for the development of harmonised technical standards as well as harmonised SPS standards for selected agricultural products.                                                                                    
  • To identify the most commonly traded products in the region and facilitate the adoption of harmonized standards (technical standards) for these products.                                                                      
  • To facilitate the development of  a three year Standards, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology work programme for the Tripartite, as well as a common Tripartite SPS work programme.
  • To develop harmonised tripartite regulations and registration guidelines for plant protection products and natural remedies such as bio control technologies and bio pesticides.
  • To develop certification schemes for selected agricultural products.                   
  • To strengthen the coordination mechanisms of National and Regional SPS Committees.

TMSA's support will help to eliminate standards related trade barriers.


Improving Aflotoxin Management Capacity in Malawi

Aflatoxin is a human carcinogen that contaminates a wide range of agro produce and is therefore a global food safety and quality issue and consequently a potential barrier to trade.

The ability of Malawian growers to participate in global and regional groundnut supply chain has been significantly hampered by the country’s inability to meet standards and technical regulations related to aflotoxins as set by importing countries.  Due to poor pre- and post-harvest practices, some local buyers/exporters estimate that up to one-forth of the sourced groundnuts need to be discarded or sold as feed.

This project was designed to develop the capacity of growers in the central region of Malawi for aflatoxin control and management in groundnuts with an overall goal of reducing levels of aflatoxins in commodities. Expected in the long term (beyond the project cycle), was an increase in incomes earned by groundnut farmers, improved international market access and reduction in the public health risks associated with the consumption of commodities contaminated with aflatoxin.   The project thus focused on building national skills for aflatoxin management and control. Key players along the groundnut value chain were trained on appropriate methodologies effective in minimizing aflatoxin contamination in groundnuts.  

A total of 1,400 farmers were trained directly, with the projection that each farmer would train an additional 10 farmers in their respective localities. A total of 14,000 farmers would thus ultimately benefit from training.  A total of 30 trainers and 38 traders and processors were also trained. A review of the effectiveness of the training found that the farmers had benefited from the training and were adopting the technologies and techniques transferred.

In addition, aflotoxin management technologies used in other countries were tested for effectiveness in Malawi.  Specifically, threshers and decorticators were tested by the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM), and were found useful in minimizing the damage that leads to mold infestation.  Equipping Chitedze research station with aflatoxin analyzing equipment enhanced local capacity for aflotoxin analyses.  Staff of the research station was also trained in sampling, analyzing and reporting techniques.  A cost benefit analysis for the establishment of an accredited testing laboratory was undertaken in view of a long-term need for services relating to the analysis and certification of commodities originating from Malawi.  A business plan for its implementation, initially funded by ComMark Trust, was developed.  It is envisaged that phase two of the project will be implemented with funding from other sources.

The project achieved more than 95% if its origional objectives, and received excellent reviews farmers and traders.

Improving Mozambique Agriculture Standards Compliance for Improved Market Access

Agriculture is a key sector for economic growth and poverty reduction in Mozambique.  It represents 20 per cent of the country’s GDP and employs over three quarters of the population. Most of it is traditional, smallholder agriculture and is the main economic activity for the majority of people living in the rural areas.

Mozambique has the potential to produce horticulture products for both the local and international markets.  However, trade in these products requires that producers comply with increasingly stringent sanitary and phyto-sanitary requirements as well as the food safety requirements of the major retailers.  Invariably, retailers expect that an exporter will be certified to an internationally acceptable certification scheme.

In 2007 the ComMark Trust contracted the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to implement a project to

  • improve the compliance of the Mozambican Horticulture sector with GlobalGAP and Organic standards
  • to facilitate the GlobalGAP certification process for a number of these producers as well as
  • to develop local certification capacity.  

In 2009 the contract between UNCTAD and the ComMark Trust was terminated before the project was completed.  The project has since been transferred to TradeMark Southern Africa.

Major objectives of the project include:

  • supporting the Mozambique Horticultural Sector to improve its ability to understand and comply with commercial supermarket export standards such as GlobalGAP and organic regulations.
  • To complete certification of  three pilot projects – specifically, GlobalGAP certification at a citrus and a mango farm and organic certification for an organisation of honey producers.                                                                                                       
  • To build the capacity of three technicians to provide certification services for the local market.                                                                                                                     
  • To produce operational manuals that will facilitate implementation of the standards for other companies wanting to be certified.                                                                                                                                                                      
  • To complete development of the pesticide database to be used by local farmers.
Measuring and Mitigating the South African Fruit and Wine Industry’s Effect on Climate Change

The fruit and wine industries are of particular importance to the South African agricultural economy.  Collectively these industries export about 2,2 million tons of fruit and about 316 million liters of wine.  Approximately 440,000 people are employed by the two industries. 

The agricultural sector, however, contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions though land-use change and the use of agrochemicals and fossil fuels. Exporters are increasingly being called upon to reduce the impact of their operations on Climate Change.  In order to maintain South Africa’s competitive position in global fruit and wine export markets it became necessary to develop a comprehensive, industry-scale response to climate change, especially when considering the significant economic and employment importance of the sector.

In 2008, the fruit and wine industry launched a climate change initiative to enhance the long term environmental and economic sustainability of the South African fruit and wine industry.

TMSA supports the development of a standardised web-based Industry Carbon Footprinting protocol and tool, as well as the development of a strategic framework document identifying the short, medium and long term factors (related to climate-change) that have a bearing on the SA fruit and wine export industry.   

More information can be found at the official website for the project -

Promoting Market Access for Fishery Products from the SADC Region through Fishery Certification

In 2004 seafood exports from the SADC countries were worth US$1,099 million.  Due to an increase in competition, however, they dropped to about US$ 721 million in 2008.  Currently, the challenge for the fisheries sector is the need to comply not only with the sanitary requirements of their trading partners but also to satisfy the increasingly demanding consumer in importing countries that they conform to the best international practices for sustainable fishing.

In 2007, the ComMark Trust approved a grant to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for a project titled, “Promoting Market Access for Fishery Products from the SADC Region through Fishery Certification.” The grant valued at a maximum of GBP 443,000 (Four hundred and forty three thousand Pounds) was to be paid in quarterly tranches over a period of three years from 1 November 2007 to 31 October 2010.  In December 2009, however, the ComMark Trust was closed and on-going projects, including the MSC project, were transferred to Trademark Southern Africa (TMSA).

TMSA supported the Marine Stewardship Council to:

  • promote market access for fishery products from the SADC region through fishery certification;
  • Raise awareness of MSC certification as potential marketing tool;
  • identify potential candidate fisheries for certification;
  • assist fisheries to enter the assessment process and
  • develop market opportunities for MSC certified fisheries in the SADC region once developed.
Supporting Mozambique National Institute of Fisheries Inspection

Agriculture is the main source of income for more than 65% of the population in Mozambique. Along with the fisheries sector, agriculture accounts for about 34% of the country’s exports.

The National Fish Inspection Institute (INIP) is the is the competent authority responsible for the enforcement of all legal provisions related to the application of fisheries Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) measures. In 2006 the EU conducted an inspection of Mozambique’s ability to comply with the special conditions governing imports if fish and fish products originating in Mozambique as laid down in the Commission Decision 2002/858/EC. Several major deficiencies in the food safety system were noted and in response to the FVO mission, in 2007 INIP received an initial grant from the ComMark Trust (a DFID funded programme) to assist INIP to implement a number of standards related projects to ensure that Mozambique was not removed from the EU's approved list of exporters.

TradeMark Southern Africa has been able to source further funding directly from DFID for expansion of the laboratory in Maputo, to ensure that INIP has the capability to perform the necessary laboratory tests. Work on the laboratory expansion should be completed by the end of 2011.

Benefits of this project includes

  • improved food security and safer products sold in local markets,
  • improved market access for fishery products from Mozambique,
  • increased incomes and continued participation of artisanal fishermen in trade in fisheries products.
Supporting Small-Scale Growers to Comply with Shoprite-Checkers Food Safety Standards

The increasing consumer demand for food safety guarantees has forced Freshmark to re-evaluate their procurement strategy. Recently the company launched a Food Safety Programme. As part of this programme all their growers/suppliers, regardless of size or location, now have to comply with specific industry food safety standards. This includes demonstrating compliance with the GLOBALGAP standard, as well as to the Freshmark GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) standard for all pack-house facilities.

A negative effect of this Food Safety Programme is that unless Freshmark’s estimated 350 small-scale suppliers (national and regional inclusive) are able to meet these industry standards they were in danger of being excluded from the Freshmark supply chain. In 2007 Freshmark (Shoprite Checkers) embarked on a major small grower development project. Previously supported by the ComMark Trust, and now supported by TradeMarkSA. An unintended advantage of participating in the programme is the ability of the suppliers to supply other retailers as well.

The overall objective is to assist 200 small-scale farmers (located in KZN, Swaziland, Namibia and Zambia) to meet minimum food safety standards as prescribed by Shoprite/Checkers. This third phase is designed to assist 65 small-scale and semi-commercial farmers in Zambia to participate in a food safety development programme, to comply with minimum food safety standards and thereby retain and grow their position as suppliers within the Freshmark supply chain.

Supporting Smallholder Production of Hass Avocados in Zambia

Zambian Small Scale Growers (ZSSG) is a producer marketing organisation set up by Mack Multiples a leading fresh produce importer in the UK linking Zambian small-scale growers to high value UK markets. ZSSG is a not for profit agricultural marketing enterprise that was established in August 2008 with funding from ComMark. Mack Multiples, one of the biggest fresh produce importers in the United Kingdom, provided the co-funding of the project and technical support for the company establishment.

Initially the project was designed to produce baby corn for the UK market, but following weakening of the British pound against the dollar in 2008, it was suggested that focus shift to the production of Hass Avocados.

In the current project, funded by TMSA, Mack Multiples is working with the ZSSG to assist selected small-scale growers to plant avocado trees and to provide extension advice and the required inputs to ensure the trees reach maturity. Mack Multiples will then, through the ZSSG purchase the fruit that meets the required standards from the small-scale growers at a fair market price.

Specific outcomes of the project includes establishing a viable nursery in the Lusaka area; recruiting 60 small-scale growers and planting an additional 12 000 trees on an additional 60 Hectares of land; and establishing a market in the UK for Zambian produced Hass avocados through the Mack Multiples distribution network.

TMSA’s support to this project will conclude in 2013, by which time it is envisaged that ZSSG ltd will be financially self-sufficient.

Supporting the Elimination of Fruit Fly

Over the last few years Africa has experienced an increase in the number of countries that are faced with increased incursions of the Asian fruit fly.

The real danger of this pest for the region lies in the fact that it has a wide range of hosts that it infests with serious negative implications for regional and international trade in agricultural products.

Its hosts include most commercially grown fruit and many vegetables including all of those that are traded within the SADC region and internationally.

Over the last few years the need for a regional approach to dealing with this pest has been the subject of many discussions.  In October 2010, at a meeting of SADC plant protection experts, it was agreed that a SADC-wide project for the surveillance of fruit fly should be presented to the Council for Ministers for approval.

The proposal is due to be presented to the Ministers in this quarter.   However, due  to the urgency of this matter, TMSA has embarked on pilot projects in Malawi and Zimbabwe, while awaiting the outcome of the SADC Council of Ministers' meeting.

Standards and SPS Measures

Early Closure of TMSA Programme: The Secretary of State of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has decided to terminate its financial contribution to TradeMark Southern Africa (TMSA), as announced on 4 December 2013. As DFID is the sole financier of the TMSA programme of support to the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite, TMSA will officially be closed from 17 March 2014 instead of 31 October 2014. For more information about the TMSA closure, and for a summary of some of the more notable successes of the Tripartite achieved with TMSA support, please click here