Delegates from the Association during dialogue with Ms.Werner

A three man delegate mandated by the Association of  Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria – Secretary – Mrs. O. Odukoya, PRO – Mr. T. Oduola & Communication Officer – Miss. R. Okunola had a business dialogue with Ms. Benedicte Werner – the Regional Coordinator of Operations (Capacity Building), COLEACP.  The meeting was held at the Protea Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos on the 9th of July, 2018. After the self introduction of all involved, Ms. Werner introduced her organization and its services & activities. She said the Europe – Africa – Caribbean – Pacific Liason Committee (COLEACP) is a civil society organization (CSO) established in 1973. Its main purpose is to support the development of a sustainable & competitive agriculture and agribusiness. Ms. Werner added that the organization is not for profit, 45 years old, member based and has a large number of members in Africa, based in France and Belgium, compliant with EU policies.

And that COLEACP is an international network with specific interest in promoting  sustainable horticultural trade, that is, fruits & vegetables within the ACP countries for the Europe market. Its membership is by acquisition through registration by private organizations involved in the value chain such as Farmers groups, Cooperatives, Transporters, Processors, Service Providers, Producers, Marketers and SMEs involve in the Fruits & Vegetables value chains.

Services include among other things market intelligence gathering by monitoring, quality standard assurance. Technical assistance by supporting  technical capacities building and improvement & sustainability to meet market requirements – Standards regulations and demands of the European markets. And of  course the local & international market linkages.  For example building the capacity of the  producers and other value chain actors for the horticultural sector. Carry out soft skill training for the producers to meet up with the required specific market standards & regulations for certification of products & produce. Special training activities in the field or via distance learning to help beneficiaries achieve their goals. Innovations and development of agricultural solutions to help its members and beneficiaries improve the quality and profitability of their products and services.

Advocacy through provision of information and communication on their activities. And share thought on the mission and work with beneficiaries and development practitioners. The organization identify and search for business development opportunities through participation in business fora and fairs. The Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria was introduced to the COLEACP representative in all its ramifications by the EXCO in attendance, starting with the Association history – vision & Mission, status within the organic system in Nigeria, membership structure, services, PGS & activities of the association. Also the various projects on going, including the 2018 National Organic Agriculture Business Summit. Werner added that Organic Agriculture is a requirement in Europe and that there should be a way of supporting those producing without chemical inputs. She added that the training especially soft skills can be offered to partners and is on cost shared basis. She advised that farmers should focus more on economic viable produce. She stated that most marketable produce at the moment are mango, avocado and dried fruits.

On collaboration: She noted that her organization can help to build the producer group capacity through training on the requirement of the European markets, help to access the markets & plan system sustainability for compliance. She claimed there is aan ongoing project being sponsored by the European Union tagged “Fit For Markets” – a 20millionEuro project with the objectives: To strengthen competitiveness of the ACP countries horticultural sector; Link farmers groups/cooperatives to markets (formal); and Strengthen the capacities of the farmers/organizations to access markets – local & international. She further hinted that their organization has a markets study report for European markets which she promised to send to our organization through the email for our use. She also noted that COLEACP is in touch with the GLOBAL GAP dictates. Their services is on request basis, and costs sharing is 80 percent to 20 percent for the beneficiaries, that equipment and tools needed or identified are at sole costs to the client/beneficiary. She claimed that many Nigerian private agricultural organizations are part of their membership with working relationship in one area or the other on going e.g. Eweko concept, Globalville.

She advised our farmers to focus on local market to provide a good bedding for their businesses before venturing into export business. And noted that fruits frequently on request by Europe markets are Mango,  Avocado & Dry fruits. The major variety of mango advised to be planted and more marketable was said to be kate and Kent. COLEACP membership is drawn mainly from a reasonable number of farmers’ group, more of corporate farmers. It works directly with organisations coordinating such. The membership of COLEACP per annum is 150 Euros. The meeting lasted about 40minutes.

Association’s Delegates Advise: Is that the Association should look for opportunities to develop members in the various value chain sectoral groups, to build capacities to conform with Europe markets dictates and requirements for certification through exploiting the project opportunities offered by COLEACP. Hence, acquisition of the COLEACP membership may be considered.