FAO/GFAR Global Initiative on Postharvest Technology

Phase 1

  

Report on the Regional Workshop for West Asia North Africa (WANA)

 

 Held at Cairo, Egypt

4-6 February 2002

 

 Organized by AARINENA

 

 

Table of contents

Executive summary...........................................................................................................

Overview of the important characteristics of the WANA region......................................

Foreword............................................................................................................................

Regional report...................................................................................................................

Synthesis of major issues from the sub-regional reports..................................................

Synthesis of major issues from the stakeholder papers....................................................

Sub-regional Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis.......

Strategic priorities.............................................................................................................

Sub-regional strategies.......................................................................................................

Theme areas.......................................................................................................................

Cross-Cutting Issues...........................................................................................................

Conclusions and general recommendations.......................................................................

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Executive summary

 

The Agro-Industries and Post-Harvest Management Service of FAO (FAO/AGSI) with the endorsement of Ph-Action, has launched an international initiative geared toward facilitating development within the post-harvest sector in developing countries.  This initiative will be implemented in two phases:

·           Phase 1. Developing a global perspective of the post-harvest sector, through the planning and implementation of five coordinated technical regional workshops.  The current workshop on the WANA region was the third to take place, and will be followed in the next 2 months by the other 2 workshops. 

·           Phase 2. Conducting a five-day International Consultation on Post-Harvest, with the objective of launching a Global Initiative on Post-Harvest (GIPhT).

 

FAO/AGSI is fully funding the implementation of phase 1 activities, which is executed in collaboration with the Global Forum for Agricultural Research (GFAR).  Funds are currently being solicited to implement Phase 2 Activities. 

 

In Phase 1, each of the five regional workshops will appraise the current status of the post-harvest sector from both institutional and stakeholder perspectives.  The identification of priorities, potentials and constraints of the sector are critical, and will provide a basis for initiating the development of an action plan geared toward facilitating these countries to keep abreast of the changing requirements of the sector, while fulfilling their fundamental objectives of maintaining a safe, secure, and stable food supply.  It is within this context, that FAO/AGSI, in collaboration with GFAR, embarked upon the planning and implementation of the five Technical Regional Workshops.

 

The objectives of the workshops are:

·           Identify and analyze the problems, potentials and constrains of the post-harvest sector in each region.

·           Assess the technical, organizational, institutional and information needs of the post-harvest sector in each region.

·           Identify major areas for improvement and development.

·           Prepare a Regional Strategy for post-harvest.

·           Identify concrete follow-up actions to be undertaken for implementation of this strategy.

 

Information derived from the five Workshops will be used as a basis for the development of a GIPhT and a plan of action for its implementation.  The development of Concrete Action Proposals by these Workshops is therefore critical.

 

Nineteen (members of AARINENA) of the 29 countries in the West Asia North Africa (WANA) region were studied. The WANA region is divided into 5 sub-regions, as follows:

1.      The Maghreb sub-region which includes Algeria, Libya, Malta, Morocco and Tunisia.

2.      The Nile Valley and Red Sea sub-region which includes Egypt, Sudan and Yemen.

3.      The Mashreq sub-region which includes Cyprus, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria.

4.      The Arabian Peninsula sub-region which includes Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

5.      West and Central Asia sub-region which includes Iran and Pakistan.

 

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Overview of the Important Characteristics of the WANA Region

·           Food production in general is very low in the region, and varies from one country to another.  Approximately 35 million metric tons of cereals are produced in the region while approximately 55 million metric tons are consumed.  Similarly, approximately 52 million metric tons of fruits and vegetables are produced, while almost 80 million metric tons are consumed.

·           The region is “food deficit” and is the largest “net food importer” among developing countries.

·           About 60 % of the population in the region live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihood, and thus the decreasing agricultural production has a negative impact on food security, as well on efforts toward poverty alleviation.

·           The region is a vast arid area with extremely poor water resources.

·           Food consumption in general, including the consumption of fruits and vegetables, is increasing especially due to increased population growth and urbanization, but it is still generally low compared to that in other regions.

·           Post-harvest food losses in the region are very high, and estimated to exceed 30 %.  Post-harvest food losses are even higher in government and quasi-government companies and fields due to poor management, lack of technical experience, lack of/or poor planning, lack of motivation, inadequate maintenance, etc.

·           The post-harvest sector in the region is deficient in infrastructure and facilities, trained personnel, appropriate technologies, investment, etc.

·           There is excellent potential for export, especially to the European and Gulf markets.  However, Improvement of the export sector will necessitate major improvements in the production systems and the post-harvest sector.

·           The region is rich in indigenous plant genetic resources, but most of its diversity is threatened by erosion, and many other environmental problems.

·           There is a strong need for the enhancement of agricultural and rural development in the region through fostering agricultural research and technology development, and by strengthening collaboration within and outside the region.

 

·           The study and the workshop on the WANA region were organized through collaborative efforts between The Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa (AARINENA), FAO/AGSI (Rome), GFAR (Rome), and FAO-RNE (Cairo). 

·           During its executive meeting in Kuwait in April, 2000, AARINENA identified and authorized the names of the regional coordinator, and the sub-regional consultants as follows:

 

·           Dr. Elhadi M. Yahia, Regional coordinator and sub-regional consultant for the Maghreb.

·           Dr. Hesham Allam, Sub-regional consultant for the Nile Valley and Red Sea.

·           Dr. Najib El Assi, Sub-regional consultant for the Mashreq.

·           Mr. Khalid Ben Mansour Al-zidjali, Sub-regional consultant for the Arabian Peninsula.

·           Dr. Mohamed Ali Shahbake, Sub-regional consultant for West and Central Asia.

 

·           Formal contacts with the regional coordinator and sub-regional consultants were accomplished in June 2001.  From then on work was initiated to identify stakeholders, to establish the venue and date of the workshop, and to finalize the workshop program.  On 5 July the venue and date of the workshop were decided (Alexandria, 11-13 November 2001).  An “aide memoire” and a program for the workshop were prepared and sent to all participants.  However, on 19 October 2001 and due to the problems of 11 September and according to instructions from FAO, the date of the workshop was postponed.  On 27 October 2001, AARINENA confirmed the new date/venue/host (Agricultural Research Center, Cairo, 3-6 February 2002).

·           A total of 58 stakeholders from the different sectors related to food production and handling in the regions (from 18 of the 19 countries to be studied) were contacted and invited.  The stakeholders invited included 2 from Algeria, 3 from Libya, one from Malta, 2 from Morocco, 7 from Tunisia, 12 from Egypt, 2 from Sudan, 2 from Yemen, 3 from Palestine, 2 from Jordan, 2 from Syria, 4 from Lebanon, 3 from Cyprus, 4 from Iran, 2 from Kuwait, one from Qatar, 3 from UAE and 4 from Pakistan.

·           Finally, 16 stakeholders accepted to participate and to prepare a report on the subject assigned to them according to their expertise.  According to this, a new “aide memoire” and new workshop program were established again and sent to all participants on 10 January 2002.   

·           The Agricultural Research Center (ARC) in Egypt served as host for the workshop.  Dr. Fawzi Naiem Mahrous (President), Dr. Magdy Madkour (Vice President), Dr. Hesham Allam (post-harvest expert), and several of the employees of the ARC made excellent efforts toward the success of the workshop in Cairo.

·            It is important to note that this was the first formal gathering of post-harvest experts from the WANA region, and indeed a very positive step toward the development of the post-harvest sector in the region. Participants were all hopeful for the development of further collaboration as an outcome of this meeting.

 

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Foreword

This report describes the outcome of an FAO-GFAR Workshop conducted in the West Asia North Africa (WANA) region. The Workshop was organized and implemented by AARINENA.  A Regional co-ordinator, 5 sub-regional consultants, and 17 stakeholders contributed to the preparation of background papers for the workshop.  The Workshop was convened in Cairo, Egypt on 4-6 February 2002.  The Workshop Agenda and list of participants are included in the Annexes 3 and 4.

 

The inputs to the consultation were:

·           Sub-regional reports were prepared by experts for the Maghreb, Nile Valley and Red Sea, Mashreq, Arabian Peninsula, and West and Central Asia sub-regions.  Only 3 of these 5 reports were presented at the workshop, since 2 of the sub-regional consultants were not able to attend.

·           Seventeen stakeholder papers were prepared by experts, and 16 of these papers were presented at the workshop.

 

Background Presentations:

·           The stage was set with two presentations by Dr. Rosa Rolle (FAO/AGSI).  In her first presentation, Dr. Rolle outlined the process that FAO and GFAR are undertaking for the development of the GIPhT initiative, while in her second presentation entitled Dimensions of the Post-harvest Sector, she provided a succinct overview of the different and diverse aspects of postharvest systems, and the various stakeholders who are involved in the sector.

·           Dr. Ahmed Goueli, Agriculture economist, former Minister of Trade and Supply (Egypt) and current Secretary General of the Council of Arab Economic Unity, presented a lecture on the agriculture food challenge for North Africa and the Middle East in the New Millenium.

·           Dr. Adel Kader, World recognized post-harvest expert presented a lecture on the status of post-harvest R & D in the WANA region.

·           Sixteen stakeholder papers on subjects pertinent to the development of post-harvest in the Region were then presented by Workshop participants.  These background papers covered a diversity of topics such as food safety, nutrition, the status of production and handling of crops, post-harvest infrastructure, research and development, status of the private sector and marketing.

·           Working deliberations followed sub-regional presentations and stakeholder papers.  The first working group exercise involved the grouping of participants on the basis of sub-regions in order to conduct an analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) in each of the 5 sub-regions, and to come up with strategies for post-harvest development in each region.

·           A card-writing exercise was then conducted in order to identify thematic areas for discussion and deliberation.  Five major thematic areas were identified:

 

1.      Infrastructure

2.      Education/research/training

3.      Marketing

4.      Quality standards and policy legislation.

5.      Information and networking 

 

This report briefly reviews the sub-regional reports, highlighting key issues.  The conclusions of the different working groups are also presented here.  These conclusions highlighted:

·           An agreed goal and purpose for the post-harvest initiative in the WANA region.

·           Sub-regional strategies to achieve the purpose and thus contribute to the overall goal.

·           Priority thematic areas, with concrete activities that can be undertaken by the GIPhT.

·           Sub-regional priorities for the post-harvest initiative. 

 

In addition to the main body of this report, the Annexes contain the full text of the 5 sub-regional reports, and the 17 stakeholder papers.

 

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Regional report

 

Synthesis of major issues from the sub-regional reports

 

This summary will focus on the trends and priorities issues that were identified in each of the 5 sub-regional reports.  It will not summarize the background information on the current status of each sub-region, which can be found in the Annex 1.

 

Trends

The five sub-regional reports concur in identifying a number of major trends that are affecting the development of the post-harvest sector in the WANA region.  These are:

·           Food security continues to be a major issue.  Low agricultural production in most of the region, and high post-harvest losses in all the region, and thus the dependence on importation in several countries of the region (especially in the Maghreb and the Arab Peninsula sub-regions) is a major concern, and needs to be adequately addressed.

·           Although, continued population growth and very rapid urbanization rates, with changing food habits provide opportunities for up-grading products and for development of more convenience-oriented food products, these demographic factors are of major concern in that they generate an increased demand for food, and increased concerns for food insecurity. 

·           Food safety is of great concern in the region. Although Quality Standards are developed in many countries, they are rarely practiced.  Quality control systems (such as HAACP) are not commonly developed nor practiced in most countries of the region.

·           Gender inequality and difficulties faced by women, especially in the rural areas are still posing economical and social problems in the region.

 

Priority constraints

·           Rare market oriented farming systems due to dominant small-size agriculture holdings, absence of functional farmer’s/exporters cooperatives or associations, and lack of important marketing firms.

·           Scarce water resources, poor water quality, and water conflicts are major obstacles for food production.

·           Lack of sufficient and adequate infrastructure in the post-harvest sector, inappropriate traditional post-harvest practices, reluctant of producers/distributors in adopting new and improved technologies.  This is true in almost all of the countries of the region for research, training, and for commercial handling of food: storage facilities, transport, distribution, communication, etc.

·           Poor marketing channels: poor marketing facilities, infrastructure, management, information technology and information sharing, etc.

·           Inadequate maintenance of available infrastructure and facilities.

·           Poor R & D in post-harvest in the region. Very poor investment in R&D, very poor research, education and training programs.

·           Extension systems in post-harvest in the region are not efficient, or totally absent.

·           Shortage of trained human resources in all levels of the post-harvest sector: research, education, training, extension, supervisors, technical personal, etc.

·           Lack of knowledge among consumers and the public in general regarding the health benefits of consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the potential health risks of the consumption of unclean products.  

·           Lack of marketing information; lack of marketing orientation in many of the sectors/stakeholders and poorly functioning, fragmented existing marketing systems.

·           High costs of production and post-production inputs.

·           Very poor and major difficulties in the access to information.

·           Unclear, inadequate or inflexible government policies/legislation in support of the post-harvest sector in many countries of the region.

·           Poor collaboration in the region at all levels: commercial, research, education, training.

·           Managerial constraints, especially in public institutions and companies: poor organization and lack of coordination.

·           Very scarce or lack of adequate sources of information on post-harvest, especially in local languages.     

 

Priority opportunities

·           Vast bio-diversity, diverse climates in the region, diversity of products.

·           Availability of labor.

·           Geographical position, closeness to markets.

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Priority for action

Based on these constraints and opportunities highlighted in the sub-regional reports, a number of priorities for future action were identified:

·           Increase availability of food by improving the production system and reducing the post-harvest losses.

·           Create a more focused market-oriented production.  Promote a change from the present supply-driven production to a market-oriented production.  This will require certain adjustments in the current production-marketing system to ensure an effective and efficient marketing system.  Incentives and assurance of the presence of marketing opportunities for selling the produce will help in convicting producers to adopt such a strategy.

·           Improve produce safety and quality.  Establishing and implementing safety procedures and quality standards.  Intensive and constant/consistent educational programs for consumers related to the nutritional and health benefits of clean horticultural crops, and the possible health risks of contaminated products, are in desperate needs.

·           Greater participation of, and collaboration with the private sector.

·           Human resource development.

·           Upgrading capability.

·           Implementing coordinated research programs.  Research and development on post-harvest should be promoted and give priority.  Universities and research institutes should give priority to applied research programs.  Research should cover aspects of direct concerns to producers, consumers and exporters.

·           Promote post-harvest education and training, especially for producers, distributors, consumers, exporters, importers, etc.    

·           Adoption of new governmental policies and legislation for improving agriculture in general with emphasis on the post-harvest sector.  Most of the present governmental policies and legislation hinder the development of the post-harvest sector, since most emphasis is placed on the production sector.

·           Increase, promote and protect the participation of the public sector investment in food production, preservation and distribution.

·           Create credit institutions to provide soft long-term loans for financing marketing infrastructure.  The introduction of new production technologies and the establishment and/or the upgrading of present facilities to meet the demand of increasing sophisticated markets require large investment which are beyond the capabilities of most farmers, agribusiness enterprises and exporters.  Credit institutions for financing such projects are needed.

·           Formulating and implementing an effective export promotion strategy, such as improving the image of regional products in the export markets, developing specific campaigns for single products, imposing quality standards on exported foods, etc.  

·           Enhance regional cooperation.

·           Developing efficient market structures locally and for export.  Adequate market infrastructure, and better management and organizations of the local markets are in desperate need.       

·           Establishing an effective market information/intelligence service. An effective market information service is a key factor in improving the production and marketing decision of farmers, traders, exporters, and consumers.  Such a service needs to be organized and managed in a way that ensures the provision of reliable and timely market information that responds to the specific needs of clients and assists them in taking their daily marketing decisions.  The system should also be able to identify and address information gaps and respond to future information needs.

·           Promote/facilitate access to information, and to communication among all actors of the post-harvest sector in the region: producers, distributors, importers, exporters, educators, researchers, extension specialists, etc, through traditional as well as new communication tools.

·           Adequate sources of information in different forms (books, bulletins, leaflets, videos, slides, etc.), especially in local languages are in desperate need. These should cover specific aspects of the post-harvest sector and need to be directed to specific segments of the actors of the post-harvest sector.

·           Special and urgent attention should be directed toward improving knowledge and skills for women in regard to nutrition, food preservation, simple food processing techniques, safety measures for handling/consumption of food, hygiene, etc.  Promote the active involvement and participation of women in all the post-harvest sector activities (education, training, management, etc).

 

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Synthesis of major issues from the stakeholder papers:

Stakeholder groups represented different sectors from MOA, research institutes, universities researchers and educators, extension centers, policy makers, private sector, food safety agencies and women in agriculture.  The main points made in the stakeholder papers and presentations are summarized below.  A more detailed summary is available in Annex x.

 

·           Diversity of products.

·           High levels of post-harvest losses.

·           Poor quality, and poor handling of produce.

·           Poor marketing systems, with poor integration, fragmented markets, and poor knowledge of markets.

·           Increasing problem with environment degradation.

·           Weak R & D.

 

Constraints

·           Production of most crops in the region is low, their post-harvest handling is inadequate, and their post-harvest losses are high.

·           Demographic growth.  The region is characterized by a high population growth rate amounting 2.5% per annum, which is higher than the world rate (1.7%), and the industrial countries rate (0.7%).  The high rate of population generates greater need and demand for food.

·           Conflicts in the region.  Conflicts in the region are creating major constraints on stability, investment, development and growth.

·           Technology gap between the region and the industrial world is expanding. This is mainly due to reliance of the region on imported technology and low level of expenditure on R & D.

·           Malnutrition, poverty and poor education level, especially for rural populations, although nutritional figures do not reflect the incidence of poverty.

·           Aridity dominates most of the countries of the region. 

·           Scarcity of water constitutes the most formidable challenge to agriculture in most of the countries in the region.

·           Food insecurity.  The region is “food deficit” and “net food importer”.

·           Contamination of horticultural crops by organic chemicals has become a pressing problem in many countries in the WANA region.

·           Lack of food safety and quality regulations.

·           Absence of national and/or regional pesticide registration system, and absence of national or regional programs on monitoring of contaminants in the market food.

·           Lack of accredited laboratories, quality control, quality assurance and reliable analysis.

·           Lack of knowledge of application of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Hazard Analytical Critical Control Points (HACCP), and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).

·           Lack of strong and efficient Food Control Laws and Consumer Protection Laws.

·           Lack of understanding of the World Trade Organization agreements, i.e. Sanitary and phyto-sanitary Agreement (SPA), and Technical Barriers in Trade Agreement (TBT).

·           Poor investment in facilities, R & D, etc.

·           Lack of marketing orientation, lack of marketing assessments and use of cost/benefit analysis, lack of market information.

·           Fragmented landholdings in some countries.

·           Underestimation of the cost of the private sector related to implementation of post-harvest innovations.  The private sector can and will adopt advanced post-harvest practices only if they understand the economic benefits and if they are properly and practically educated.

·           Very little coordination between post-harvest researchers. 

 

Opportunities

·           Increasing demand for higher quality produce both within the region (for higher income and more urban consumers), and in export markets.

·           Many countries in the region are located at crossroads connecting East and West, as well as Europe and Africa.

·           The climate conditions along with the most favorable growing conditions in the different agro-ecological zones of some countries in the region makes it ideal for producing a wide range of good quality horticultural crops.

·           Availability (in countries outside of the region) of technology packages for improved production and improved handling of food.

 

Priorities and recommendations

·           Production should be market oriented.

·           Improve food safety and quality.  Implement control measures to reduce pesticide use, and awareness programs to increase food safety for human consumption and a reduction of contamination. Reduce the use of pesticides to the minimum possible and increase the application of IPM programs, alternatives, and biopesticides.

·           Greater support is needed for post-harvest R and D, including extension systems. Increase resources devoted to R & D.

·           Promote more investment in facilities: grading, packing, storage, transport, marketing, training, research. 

·           Training on HACCP and GMP for the different actors in the post-harvest sector.

·           Initiate a regional monitoring program for contaminants in food.  Establishing Regional Maximum Limits for the contaminants in food.

·           Elaborate Risk Analysis (assessment, management, communication) on food contaminant of interest in the region.

·           Establish consumer protection laws and encourage consumer protection associations to participate actively in decisions related to food safety. 

·           Female employment is needed in agriculture and in the non-farm activities, to contribute to the reduction of poverty and for food security.

·           Intra-regional cooperation and integration is needed to contribute to development and economic stability in the region.

·           Free trade agreements with Europe, Pan- Arab and bilateral must be continuously assessed to ensure benefits and harmonization with WTO regulations.

·           Countries of the region may consider buffer stocks especially for cereals and wheat to face seasonal food shortage and emergencies.

·           Upgrading of trade infrastructure and expansion of food processing and handling contribute to food security in the region.

·           Market information is a crucial service to allow farmers and traders to make knowledgeable decision about what to grow, when to harvest, to which market produce should be sent and whether or not to store it.

·           Adequate policies and legislation are needed for effective functioning of marketing systems.

·           Marketing research need to be enhanced.

·           Solutions to many existing problems in the post-harvest handling system require use of available information and implementation of appropriate technologies.

·           Establishing post-harvest working group in each country can be very useful in providing a forum for communication among all those concerned with post-harvest biology and technology research and extension. A link then is needed to be established among the various post-harvest working groups in the region to facilitate exchange of information on training and other areas of mutual interest.       

 

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Sub-regional Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis

 As a strategic planning tool, a SWOT analysis was conducted at the sub-regional level by workshop participants.  Five groups were constituted, corresponding to the areas in each of the sub-regional reports: Maghreb, Mashreq, Nile Valley and Red Sea, Arabian Peninsula, and West and Central Asia.  Each working group was asked to identify the major strength and weakness of the post-harvest sector in each of the sub-region (internal factors), and external opportunities and threats that are bearing on each sub-region.  This analysis is an aid to the identification of strategic priorities in later stages of the workshop.   The development of the SWOT analysis by working groups allowed for additional inputs, and for a joint prioritization process, where the group were asked to prioritize the key 5 points for each component of the SWOT.  

 

The Maghreb

 Internal strengths

·           Proximity to markets.  The countries of the sub-region have excellent geographical location, and proximity and easy access to important markets especially in Europe. 

·           Adequate land resources.  Although there are shortage of water, desertification and drought, but there are sufficient land resources for production.

·           Adequate labor. Good supply of trained labor in the Maghreb sub-region is available, and requires employment.  Employment in the agricultural and post-harvest sector (rural areas) is needed to reduce poverty and immigration to urban centers and outside of the sub-region.

·           Adequate communication.  All the Maghreb countries are on the Mediterranean Sea, which allows for excellent and easy access.  In addition, roads, especially around urban cities are of reasonably good conditions.

 

Internal weaknesses

·           Shortage of water supplies.  Shortage of water supply, and droughts are a major obstacle for the food production the sub-region.

·           Lack of political will.  Although the Maghreb countries (in North Africa) had established more than one unity agreement (the last has been established since 1989), but series of obstacles are still facing adequate cooperation.

·           Lack of R and D programs.

·           Gender inequalities.  Women in the sub-region still suffer from inequalities, especially in education and job opportunities.  This is a major obstacle toward the development of the sub-region. 

 

External opportunities

·           Shipping and air communication.  Closeness to the European market and being on the Mediterranean Sea provides the countries of the Maghreb with excellent communication. 

·           Joint programs (EU).  Most of the countries of the sub-region have established bilateral agreements with individual European countries or with the EU, which is promoting the cooperation in the region.

·           Use of European languages.  The common use of European languages in the sub-region facilitates communication and contacts with export markets.

 

External threats

·           Globalization.

·           Brain drain of experts.  Many skilled and unskilled immigrants from the sub-region are in different parts of the world, especially in Europe, which leaves the sub-region with certain disadvantages in some developmental sectors.

·           Health problems.  Nutritional and health problems are still a problem, especially in rural areas, which are affecting negatively on the development of the sub-region.

·           Dependence on imports (lack of food security).  The sub-region is a “net importer”, especially of cereal grains, which puts a heavy burden on the economy and the development of the sub-region, and increases food insecurity.

 

The Nile Valley and Red Sea

 Internal strengths

·           Good geographical location in relation to other markets.  The sub-region has excellent location in relation to important markets in Europe and the Gulf.

·           Climate/labor force/land/water production knows how.  The sub-region is blessed with excellent climate for agricultural production, plenty of good productive land, plenty of good quality water (especially along the Nile Valley), and sufficient labor force.

·           Common cultural heritage.  The countries of the sub-region have developed a historical common heritage and culture, which can be used very positively for development and cooperation.

 

Internal weaknesses

·           Lack of education, especially for women.  The region still suffers from high percentage of illiteracy, especially in the rural areas, and especially among women.  This problem is hindering the development of the whole sub-region.

·           Management practices. Lack of info/communication. 

·           Lack of short-term and long-term problem-oriented strategies. 

·           Lack of market-oriented practice, information/management.

·           Fragmentation of agricultural land.

 

External opportunities

·           Develop inter-regional market system.

·           Exchange of information experience and technology.

·           Building institutional links of research and collaboration.

·           Enhance extension work.

·           Participation in government organizations.

 

External threats

·           Water resources and conflicts.

·           Lack of sustainability in food production, losses and policies.

·           Desertification. 

 

The Mashreq

 Internal Strengths

·           Geographical location.  The sub-region has excellent location in regard to very important markets especially in Europe and the Gulf.

·           Off-season production.

·           Wide variety of produce.

·           Low level of illiteracy.

·           Technology transfer in progress.

 

Internal weaknesses

·           Extension and training R and D.

·           Facilities for testing.

·           Gluts and lack of outlets.

·           Poor quality.

·           Coordination and collaboration.

 

External opportunities

·           Relative low cost of production.

·           Accessibility to EU and Gulf markets.

·           High value crops.

·           Regional and international agreements and conventions.

·           Added value products.

 

External threats

·           Water shortage, and conflicts.  Water conflicts is a major concern in the sub-region.

·           Low investment.

·           Un-enabling government policies.

·           Regional political instability.  The instability in the sub-region is affecting negatively on investment in the sector.

·           Small size agricultural holdings.

 

The Arabian Peninsula

 Internal strengths

·           Available financial resources allows for better infrastructure.

·           Efficient distribution system that is large enough for joint ventures with producing countries.

·           Governments encourage local producers.

·           Private sector is predominant and often vertically integrated.

 

Internal weaknesses

·           Limited technical expertise and lack of information needed for proper handling.

·           Consumer prefers imported products even if the local or regional products are of equal quality.

·           Availability of imported crops discourages local producers from producing these crops.

·           Uneven distribution of cold storage facilities.

 

External opportunities

·           Building local expertise in post-harvest technology and marketing via effective training programs and curricula development at universities.

·           Adding more processing capabilities to utilize both local and imported produce beyond what can be marketed fresh.

·           Developing partnerships with other countries in the region.

 

External threats

·           Regional instability.

·           Internal instability due to widening gaps between rich and poor.

·           Water shortage.

·           Fluctuations in wealth related to world oil prices.

 

The West and Central Asia

 Internal strengths

·           Suitable environmental conditions for growing fruits, vegetables and cereal crops.

·           Large domestic market.

·           Good export potential.

·           Availability of scientific manpower.

 

Internal weaknesses

·           Lack of awareness of technology.

·           Lack of post-harvest infrastructure.

·           Lack of legislation.

·           Lack of farmer’s organizations.

·           Access to credits is difficult.

 

External opportunities

·           Target/nitch markets.

·           New crop production.

·           Agro-based industry.

 

External threats

·           Unstable governments.

·           Inconsistent government policies.

·           Greater trend towards urbanization.

·           Natural climates.

 

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Strategic priorities

 Goal and purpose

 Goal

To Contribute to improvement in the standard of living of small farmers and marketers, improved health and environmental conditions, poverty alleviation and food security in the WANA Region.

 

Purpose

To enhance demand-driven production, sustainability of food production and distribution, and availability and efficiency of  post-harvest infrastructure through the reduction of losses, improvement of food quality and safety, and through improvements in communication and information transfer in the WANA Region.

 

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Sub-regional strategies

According to the sub-regional reports, the stakeholder presentations, and the SWOT analysis, the strategies for each sub-region were identified as follows:

 

The Maghreb

Strategies:

·           Strategic plan for agriculture development.

·           Information network for post-harvest.

·           Intra regional center for postharvest.

 

Rationale:

·           Reduction of post-harvest losses as part of the means of poverty alleviation, health and social welfare, and environmental sustainability in the sub-region.

 

The Nile Valley and Red Sea

Strategies

·           Develop a production map for the region.

·           Encourage market-oriented production and effective integrated crop management and gap.

·           Apply proper harvest and post-harvest technologies during all the handling systems.

·           Improve the infrastructure of post-harvest handling system including packaging, transportation, processing and implementation of the cold-chain concept.

·           Coordination among DMS in all countries in the sub-region to develop effective policies for production and post-harvest handling.

·           Improve the technical education related to post-harvest and development of effective extension and outreach program.

·           Encourage sub-regional unions among growers, producers and exporters.

 

Rationale:

·           Encourage the common market among the sub-region.

 

The Mashreq

Strategies:

1.      Improve know-how.

2.      Activate, strengthen the marketing laws and regulations.

3.      Improve technology transfer.

4.      Increase farmer, exporter, and consumer awareness.

 

Rationale:

High economic losses due to high postharvest losses at all levels of the production and the postharvest sector.

 

The Arabian Peninsula

Strategies

·           To improve technical capabilities and enhance policies in support of postharvest distribution systems.

·           Networking and information capabilities, and efficiency in the use of facilities and infrastructure.

·           To increase consumer awareness of proper produce handling conditions.

 

Rationale:

·           Reduce post-harvest losses and building local technical capacity.

 

The West and Central Asia

Strategies:

·           To invite grower organizations from developed countries to establish infrastructure (this system is already established in Iran).

·           Government policies to develop post-harvest infrastructure.

·           To strengthen the information technology.

·           To reinforce common strategies with Turkey.

 

Rationale:

·           To reduce the losses from growers to the consumers.  This can be achieved by increasing the awareness by training programs and by establishing infrastructure.

 

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Theme areas

Workshop participants prioritized a number of theme areas for inclusion in the post-harvest initiative, based on a synthesis of the information contained in the sub-regional reports, the SWOT analysis and the emerging sub-regional strategies.  These theme areas (and the activities identified within them) are also compatible with the goal and purpose of the overall initiative.

 

The theme areas identifies (not in order of priority) are:

·           Information and networking

·           Infrastructure

·           Research, education, training

·           Marketing

·           Quality standards & policy legislation

 

For each theme area, one or more key objectives, and activities to achieve them, were identified.  These were generated and further defined in an iterative manner through working group’s discussion.

 

Objectives, outputs and activities, by theme area

 

Information and networking

Objective

 

1.      Providing easy access to reliable post-harvest technology and marketing information.

2.      Encouraging private sector support of research and development efforts.

3.      Creating both national and regional post-harvest networks to facilitate cooperation and coordination.

4.      Developing information about the return on investment for post-harvest technologies.

 

Activities

I.

a.      Make more people aware of the Inpho website and add translations into Arabic, Urdu, Turkish, and Persian of the most relevant sections of the website.

b.      Encourage each post-harvest group in each country to present the most reliable, relevant information.  These national websites can be linked to the Inpho website.

c.       Use information dissemination methods other than the Internet to make reliable and relevant information available to all clientele groups, taking into consideration their communication capabilities.  Radio and TV programs are likely to reach the largest percentage of the population.

II.

a.       Recommend that international aid providers involve the stakeholders in funding each project in a gradual way to assure continuation beyond the end of the aid provided.

b.      Encourage shared funding between the private sector and government agencies of all R & D efforts.

c.       Streamline the administrative process to facilitate implementation of collaborative R & D efforts.

III.

a.       Make the formation of an effective national network among post-harvest research and extension workers a prerequisite for providing any FAO funds in the area.

b.      Involve AARINENA in formulating a regional network among post-harvest research and extension workers and facilitate communications, collaborations, and other interactions.  This effort may include:

1.      Establishing and maintaining a website and a listserv for communication among network members.

2.      Developing and publishing a directory of all post-harvest research and extension workers in the region.

3.      Sponsoring periodic meetings within each sub-region or within the whole region.

IV.

a.       Support a regional research and extension project to identify appropriate post-harvest technologies for maintaining quality and safety of produce, and to estimate the cost/benefit (return on investment) of each of the identified technologies.  Results of this research should be disseminated widely to all potential users in the region.

 

Infrastructure

Objectives

 

1.      Transportation

2.      Cooling facilities

3.      Construction/improvement of pack houses

4.      Distribution chains

5.      Adequate packages

6.      Training programs

7.      Develop research facilities

8.      Tools for maturity indices

9.      Network exchange information in the region

 

Activities

 

1.      Refrigerated trucks.

2.      Construction of new roads.

3.      Building of non-conventional storage facilities (evaporative cooling, water cooling).

4.      Replacing outdated equipments.

5.      Communication means between markets.

 

Recommendations for infrastructure

1.      Identifying what facilities are available in the region.

2.      Maintain the existing facilities.

3.      Optimize the utilization of existing facilities.

4.      Identify needed additions to available infrastructure and facilities.

5.      Identify the appropriate technology that can be accomplished with low budget and easy maintenance.

  

Research, education, training

Education

Objectives

1.      To increase consumer awareness, education at school level, mass media.

2.      Higher education for producers, inspectors, marketers, extension agents and policy makers.

 

Activities

1.      Launching of national programs through brochures, TV, radio, newspapers and courses.

2.      Organizing ad hoc courses at University level.

3.      Introducing specialized degree at graduate level (teaching teachers).

4.      Initiating courses at school level including post-harvest education.

 

Research

Objectives

1.      Should reflect local needs.

2.      Should be cooperative in the region.

3.      Should provide practical solutions to post-harvest problems.

4.      Should provide methodologies for the region and the nations (adaptability).

5.      Should provide quality parameters for the region.

 

Activities

1.      Carry out research in consultation with local producers, market operators and consumers (new variety trials, competitive preservation methods, adaptability of quality standards).

2.      Improve communication at national and regional level (exchange of results).

3.      Establish national and regional networks.

 

Training

Objectives

1.      Training for producers, quality inspectors, market operators, extension agents

2.      Continuous on-job training.

 

Activities

1.      Organize local and regional workshops for extension specialists, farmers, market operators, and short courses for trainers and, with extensionists organize on-field training for farmers.

2.      Publish training manuals on specific topics, brochures, slides, visual and audiovisual aids, especially in local languages.

 

Extension

 

Objectives

1.      Establish and or improve a well-structured extension system and network and extension centers to provide well-trained post-harvest subject matters specialists and post-harvest information.

2.      Emphasize teaching/teaching by participation so the farmers and marketers are a part of the decision making.

3.      Encourage the private sector extension service parallel with the government efforts.

4.      Enhance grouping of small growers and marketers to receive good extension services.

5.      Conduct a workshop on post-harvest research extension (SDRE and AGSI).

 

Activities

1.      Post-harvest biology and technology short courses for extension agencies.

2.      Equip the extension post-harvest centers with facilities and information (written and electronic form).

3.      Field days and visits for modern post-harvest facilities in the region.

4.      Encourage the mass media to distinguish the extension information.

 

Marketing

 

Objectives

1.      Establish marketing information systems for qualitative and quantitative information at national and regional level.

2.      Market oriented production.

3.      Identify high priority products.

4.      Intra/extra trade promotion for WANA products.

 

Activities

1.      Assess current availability of marketing information.

2.      Design efficient marketing systems at the national level.

3.      Link WANA databases into regional network.

4.      Develop marketing information website for WANA region.

5.      Design information dissemination system.

6.      Establish national and regional marketing intelligence systems.

7.      Specialized training on marketing research.

8.      Facilitate information exchange among WANA countries.

9.      Encourage establishment/enforcement of quality standards and grades.

10.  Design and implement marketing extension programs.

11.  Quantify post-harvest losses and present information to policy makers.

12.  Encourage producers and exporters organizations.

13.  Study market windows and potential markets.

14.  Conduct socio-economic and marketing studies to determine comparative advantage and high V.A. crops that would be produced in the region.

15.  Registering local typical products and techniques within the concept of TRIPS.

16.  Promote organic and IPM production systems.

17.  Promote innovative fresh and processed products, e.g. natural flavored products.

18.  Allocate funds for participation in trade fairs and campaigns.

19.  Publicity media campaigns.

20.  Establishing and strengthening linkages among WANA exporters and importers in foreign markets.

 

Quality standards & policy legislation

 

Objectives

1. Priorities to improve quality and safety of food products

 

Activities

1.      Updating of food legislation and standards (FAO guide) in relation with WTO agreement.

2.      Implementation of the legislation and standards for handling, grading, sorting, etc.

3.      Harmonization of the standards among members of the WANA region.

4.      Set up priority in each C-WANA for contaminant and commodities.

5.      Standard of imported products for the WANA region members should meet the consumption requirement in the producing country.

6.      Orient governmental funds (incentives, field trips, scientific visits, etc) to support research and development for the post-harvest sector.

7.      Government, private sector, and NGO’s should be encouraged to launch and enhance nutritional programs on post-harvest research and development.

8.      Risk analysis should be adopted for specific food contaminants in C-WANA.

9.      C-WANA should set up a regional agricultural information system for networking, communication, dissemination and exchange of information as a case for improving food quality and safety.

10.  Governments need to review existing legislation, policy programs, identifying gaps and analysis to update according to WTO rules and procedures.

11.  A bottom up approach that incorporate all concerned parties (ministries, food industries, research institutes, universities, NGO’s, farmer’s organizations, etc) should be used to accept the above activity and meet consumer requirements.

12.  Up date legislation and standards can be facilitated by the technical and financial support of international organizations.

13.  International agencies could play a rule in defining priorities, formulating policies, and harmonizing legislation and standards in C-WANA.

14.  AARINENA would facilitate networking activities among C-WANA

15.  Establishment/improvement of quality control centers to fulfill required analysis on food products for local and external markets.

 

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 Cross-cutting issues

 1.      Increased public awareness about post-harvest. Only in very few of the countries of the region (such as Egypt, Morocco and Jordan) where post-harvest has become of interest to some very few producers and to exporters.  An intensive campaign should be established to raise the awareness and interest among producers, distributors (in local and export markets), and consumers of the importance of post-harvest.

2.      Increased competitiveness and sustainability within the post-harvest sector.

3.      Gender/women/socio-cultural elements.  Illiteracy and inequalities for women in most of the countries of the region are still the cause of major obstacles toward the economic and social development of the WANA.

4.      Networking, communication, information.  Networking, communication and the access to information are basic elements for developments.  However, these are very deficient in the WANA region. 

5.      Website development.  Website development can be an excellent form of communication and dissemination of information in the region, and would greatly facilitate communication among the active actors of the sector.

6.      Environmental considerations.  Environment consideration has not been a priority in most of the countries of the WANA region.  There is significant environmental degradation that should be dealt with urgently. 

7.      Maintenance and follow-up.  Maintenance of infrastructure and facilities in almost all the countries of the region is very poor, causing major losses.  Efforts should be made to create a tradition of maintenance including adequately trained personals, better planning and designing of infrastructure and facilities, availability of spare parts, improved efficiency, better handling of resources.   

8.      Better use of available information. A very rich information on post-harvest biology, physiology, technology and handling of food is available in many public sources (such as books, journals, web pages, etc), and should be made available and used to solve some of the problems of food handling in the region. 

9.      Use of local capacity in post-harvest development in the region.  Excellent local resources (researchers, educators, trained personal, infrastructures, facilities) are available in the region.  However, unfortunately these resources are used efficiently, and many case are not even identified.  Some of these resources have immigrated looking for an adequate work environment.  Efforts MUST be made to identify these local resources, to prepare a directory, which should be made available in the whole region, and should be considered and provided with adequate work environment.       

10.  Capacity building and demand drawn applied research.

11.  Nutrition/ health safety measures.  Nutrition in most countries of the region is still deficient, even in rich countries, and therefore poor health is still a major obstacle toward the development of the population of the region.  This is even worst when considering that food safety in the region is poor, and almost lacking in some countries or locations.  Efforts should be intensified to improve nutritional/health/food safety knowledge and concerns for all sectors especially consumers.

12.  Marketing/improvement of distribution chains/centers.  As mentioned repeatedly in sub-regional reports, stakeholder papers, and working groups discussion, marketing/marketing centers/distribution centers are very poor in almost all countries of the region, and need to be improved urgently.

13.  Enhancing the involvement of the private sector, NGO’s.  The private sector is not adequately participating in the post-harvest sector in most countries in the region, which is effecting negatively on the development of the sector.  

14.  Biotechnology and its implications.  Biotechnology could be used to solve some of the problems facing the food production in the region.  However, great efforts are needed to establish adequate facilities and infrastructure, trained personal, to formulate adequate policy for the use of biotechnology.

15.  Development/implementation of quality standards.  Quality of products in the region is still poor.  Quality standards are either not developed and/or not implemented.  Serious efforts are needed to develop adequate standards, to implement them adequately for products intended for export as well as for the domestic market.   

16.  Improved distribution system.  The distribution system is very poor in almost all countries of the region and need to be improved.

17.  Trade policies.  Official trade policies in the member countries of the WANA region are deficient, lack clear objectives, and need to be revised and improved.

 

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Conclusions and General Recommendations

The GIPhT study on the WANA region was conducted by 22 experts from different countries of the region, by contributing 5 sub-regional reports, and 17 stakeholder papers.  A 3-days Workshop was held to present and to discuss these reports.  In addition, these experts along with experts from FAO/AGSI, GFAR, and AARINENA conducted working groups discussion during the Workshop and came up with different analysis and conclusions regarding the status of the food post-harvest sector in the region.

Some of the most important general conclusions and recommendations formulated in the reports and during the working group’s discussion sessions include: 

·           The post-harvest sector in the region is extremely weak, and needs great efforts and intensive plans and work to improve it.

·           There is an urgent need for a follow-up workshop on post-harvest extension.

·           Need for establishment of control information systems.

·           Development of efficiency indicators for post-harvest.

·           Promote investment in post-harvest development.

·           Improve the access to information.


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