Sustainability Impacts of Horticulture Trade in Africa Examined

6 October 2006

A recent assessment of potential impacts of liberalising horticulture trade (green beans, peas and roses) between Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) and the EU under the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) currently under negotiation cautions that expected expansion of production would put pressure on the environment due to an increased use of agrochemicals, water and energy. At the same time, the report notes that the agreement has the potential to contribute to investment in more environmentally-friendly technologies — such as hydroponics and spot sprayings — and codes of conduct that promote more environmentally responsible production.

Regarding economic and social impacts in the ESA region, the sustainability impact assessment (SIA) concludes that the EPA promises continued employment and possibly more jobs, as it builds on the ACP countries’ cost savings advantages in energy and labour. Noting that the horticulture sector is "vital" for several ACP countries and "an important contributor to economic performance and employment", the report stresses that preserving duty-free market access to the EU is crucial for ESA countries.

The ESA region exports most of its horticulture products to the EU. In Kenya, horticulture is the primary source of foreign currency, constituting nearly 20 percent of total exports. Fresh vegetables and cut flowers make up almost 40 percent of total agricultural exports in Zambia.

To access the SIA on horticulture in the EU-ESA agreement, visit http://ec.europa.eu/trade/issues/global/sia/studies_geo.htm.

ICTSD reporting.

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