Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI), the Spanish International Cooperation Program of the Government of Spain and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAF)
May 18, 2000

Representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture from Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Palestine Recommend to Establish a Regional Commission for the Export Sale and Marketing of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Under One Cooperative Regional Label

At a seminar of representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture from Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Palestine, held this week in Jerusalem under the auspices of IPCRI-Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, agreed to call on their Ministers to Sign a Protocol Of Agricultural Cooperation including the establishment of the first formal, government supported Regional Commission for Cooperative Export Marketing. The recommendations will be submitted to the Ministers of Agriculture. IPCRI has begun to work towards a meeting of the four Ministers of Agriculture where these recommendations would be discussed.

The seminar was the fourth regional seminar on Agricultural cooperation organized by IPCRI since 1997. The seminar was funded by the Spanish International Cooperation Program of the Government of Spain. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation has also been a partner in the IPCRI Cooperative Agriculture Program.

The participants in the seminar represent the senior levels of the Ministries in Marketing, plant protection and national agricultural planning. It is interesting to note that while the West Bank and Gaza were flaming with violence and confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians, four delegations from Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Palestine spent three days of intensive and productive talks on agricultural regional cooperation. The atmosphere in the Notre Dame Center where the seminar was held, was one of true partnership and cooperation.

The participants heard a lecture from Dr. Johannes Gerster, the Head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Jerusalem about the history of the establishment of the European Union. The establishment of the German-French Steel and Coal Commission shortly after WW II was particularly inspiring and lead to the decision of the participants to recommend to their Government the establishment of the First Regional Joint Commission.
The following is a copy of the Recommendations that are being submitted to the governments of Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Palestine.


IPCRI (Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information) Workshop on Harmonization of Agricultural Health, Phytosanitary and Quality Standards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables between Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Palestine Jerusalem, May 15-17, 2000

Recommendations for a Draft Protocol on Agricultural Cooperation between the Ministries of Agriculture of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Palestine


It is highly recommended that the Ministers of Agriculture of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Palestine sign a protocol of cooperation between the four countries for the purpose of advancing concrete steps towards the development of possibilities for unified marketing strategies and sale of specific horticulture produce to the large markets of the EU, EFTA, NAFTA, and the Far East.

Rationale

The large markets (mainly in Europe) are becoming more and more concentrated by a limited number of buyers. The ability to compete and sell to those markets is based on the ability to supply high quality products based on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) that are in large enough quantities and with promised consistency over time. The ability to profit from the marketing windows that exist in those markets at times when supplies are low, particularly during the winter months, is based on the ability to design the export flow of desired crops to those markets at the right time. There is also a need for designing specific crop specifications and standards for the various sub-sections of the European markets according to the demands of the consumers in those countries.

In order to exploit the export opportunities for the mutual economic benefit of the four countries and in particular for the economic benefit of the farmers, high level and broad based cooperation, coordination, capacity building and joint work is necessary between the four countries. In particular it is worthwhile to mention these specific areas of needed cooperation:
  1. Market research and Marketing Information Systems
  2. Biological research and design of products according to market demands
  3. Data base and registration of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals
  4. Development of marketing strategies
  5. Adoption of GAP
  6. Technology transfer of breeding materials, water, and irrigation technology
  7. Forwarding and marketing
  8. Transportation of cargo
  9. Development of a regional market tag or label
  10. Unification of plant protection, quality and quarantine, health, safety and quality standards based on International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
  11. Advancement of Integrated Crop Management including Integrated Pest Management

Recommendation - JEPI – Regional Agricultural Commission

A regional commission for agriculture should be established by the decision of the governments of the four. JEPI-RAC should function as the first formal and official regional institution. The main goal of JEPI-RAC is to market fresh horticulture products to the large markets mainly in Europe under one label, through a well defined marketing strategy and based on planning and agricultural research and implementation in the field in order to capitalize on the relative advantages of the agricultural sector of each of the four countries forming JEPI-RAC .

JEPI-RAC will be run by a Board of Commissioners composed of the Four Ministers of Agriculture and two other senior people from each country. The day-to-day running of JEPI-RAC will be by a Board of four directors appointed by the Ministers of Agriculture.

JEPI-RAC’s Board of Commissioners will be responsible for the appointment of personnel, the approval of strategies and projects and the raising of funds. The four countries will provide agreed upon facilities and in-kind support. Project funds will be sought from the donor nations and international organizations.

JEPI-RAC will have a Constitution of By-Laws that will set it up as a legal regional institution empowered by the Governments of the four. JEPI-RAC will establish four offices, one in each country, each office will head the work of a sub-commission in one of the following four areas:

  1. Marketing research and strategies
  2. Unification and enforcement of plant protection, health, safety and quality standards
  3. Biological and agricultural research
  4. Regional agricultural on-line data base

Each sub-commission will have a board of directors composed of at least 2 people from each country which will recommend the specific activities of the sub-commission to JEPI-RAC Board of Commissioners for approval.

JEPI-RAC will seek membership as a regional working group in international organizations such as IPPC , the Bio-diversity Conference, the Climate Change Convention and other related institutions.



Recommendations of the phytosanitary working group at the IPCRI Agricultural Conference

  1. It is proposed to exchange information about new pests. Samples or specimens are to be sent for identification in laboratories with expertise. Knowledge about identification and detection should be made available to Jordan, Egypt, Palestine and Israel (JEPI).

  2. Databases on pests present in each country will be made available JEPI. The database will include the name of the pest, the strain or biotype the date, the host plant, the climate, the location in which it was found and the methods of control. These databases will serve to refer to citations and information available on each pest.

  3. It is proposed to exchange among the countries involved the existing phytosanitary regulations and criteria. There should be meetings of technical professionals from JEPI in order to address harmonized standards, based on the principles of each of the countries and the internationally agreed rules. It is advised that the harmonized regulations (based on laws) to enforce quarantine at borders.

  4. It is advised that the methods for testing and verification of pest presence will be agreed by the technical personnel. A standing committee of technical professionals will negotiate changes in agreed regulations or in the verification protocols should be made in agreement of JEPI.

  5. Information dissemination will be made by extension officers, media, workshops to inform farmers and end users of presence of new pests and diseases. Forecast and expert system should be made available to respective organization in JEPI.

  6. We recommend a proper utilization of media and training methods to inform the implementation of IPM and good management practices.

  7. A phytosanitary standing committee will negotiate quarantine restrictions on import and export of agricultural produce among the parties involved. It is proposed to produce an agreed phytosanitary certificate. The standing committee will convene upon the request of one of the parties.

  8. Create a website on phytosanitary news available to all parties involved but limited to users that have authorization.

  9. Databases on the list of pesticides used in each country will be made available to all the parties involved. The database will include the common and generic name of the pesticide, the pest to be controlled by it, the recommended mode of application, the safety period and the threshold allowed on a list of crop at harvest time.

  10. It is proposed to exchange among the countries involved the existing regulations and criteria about the allowed residues of pesticides in imported produce. There should be meetings of technical professionals from all four parties in order to address harmonized standards, based on the principles of each of the countries and the internationally agreed rules. It is advised that the harmonized regulations (will be based on laws) to enforce quarantine at borders.

  11. It is advised that the methods for testing and verification of pesticides presence bwill be agreed by the technical personnel. A standing committee of technical professionals will negotiate changes in agreed regulations or in the verification protocols should be made in agreement of all four countries.

  12. Genetically modified crops and organisms should be made known on agreed labels and certificates. The procedures and methods to detect GMO should be made available by the national GMO committee to the GMO committees of the four parties. Test and field experiments with GMO that are likely to affect neighboring parties should be made known by the national GMO committee to the respective committee in the neighboring country.

  13. Representatives from the GMO committees of the four parties should meet to harmonize the standards and regulations in producing and importing GM crops. Personnel from all four parties involved should be trained in order to be able to cope with the novel techniques needed to detect GMOs.


Recommendations for a Draft Protocol on Marketing, Forwarding, Packaging and Quality Standard Cooperation between the Ministry of Egypt, Israel, Jordan and Palestine.

Recommendations of this workshop are as follows:

  1. There is importance in collecting information from the markets in this region as well as other regions (e.g. Western Europe, Far East, etc.) and to influence the relevant decision makers to invest in this issue.
  2. There is a need in regional standards for fresh products and all kinds of propagation material in order to protect this region from penetration of low quality products.
    Another aspect of this issue is to help the trade of these four countries and in the future more countries from this region.
  3. There is a need for cooperation in order to learn the marketing methods of the destination countries, to create a regional marketing strategy. In addition to this, to develop strategy in transportation (by sea, air, etc.) and in sales promotion of products typical to this region.
  4. There is a need to increase the growers and marketers awareness to make production cheaper, higher quality and more efficient in order to compete in the markets when the purpose is to aim for high quality and price in the market.
  5. It is important to produce high value products in the region (seeds, etc.). Research has to be involved in this issue.
  6. To determine each countries’ needs and to involve research cooperation between the 4 countries. Each country will contribute according to their ability, in order to complete the other countries (courses, study groups, etc.)
  7. The numbers of this workshop will be published in an article of the professional newsletters of each respective country.