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El Salvador - Country Report 2008

by Beatriz Alegría, Consorcio CLUSA-CORDES

This article was originally published in The World of Organic Agriculture 2009.

History

Organic agriculture in El Salvador started at the end of the 1980s – on farms that had been abandoned during the war, but which could then easily be converted. NGOs gave advice and other technical support through international development cooperation funds.

CLUSA, an NGO, started its activities in the field of organic agriculture in 1992. These activities were supported by USAID and carried out in cooperation with UCRAPROBEX, an association of cooperative coffee farms.

The first exports of organic coffee were realized at a time when coffee underwent a deep price crisis. The organic option constituted a major opportunity and also a motivator for other projects. At the same time, CORDES and other NGOs started
organic farming projects in order to diversify production and processing, both for the domestic and international market.

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Production

Crops grown in organic agriculture in El Salvador 2007 (including in-conversion area).

Currently, 7’477 hectares are under organic cultivation, of which 6’166 are fully converted, and a further 1’311 are in conversion.

The products with the largest areas are coffee, sesame, cashew and coconut; the first three are also the most important export products, constituting a total value of 9.2 million US Dollars in the time period January to August 2008. Coffee constitutes more than 80 percent of the export value.

 

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Key players

There are about 2000 producers practicing organic methods. They also serve an important role in disseminating knowledge on organic agriculture, and as a result they are giving an important boost to the growth of the organic sector in El Salvador.

Other operators include processors, traders and exporters. In this context, it is important to mention El Salvador Organics that markets the products of the members of the Organic Movement of El Salvador MAOES . 28 groups of producers, as well as small companies that process and market 100 different fresh and processed products, are members of MAOES. NGOs that manage projects financed by international cooperation agencies offer advice and technical support for the development of the organic supply chain.

The University of El Salvador is currently the only university that cooperates directly with the organic movement MAOES.

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Domestic market

The cooperative Los Planes grows vegetables and flowers for the local market. Pciutre: FiBL, Frick

MAOES has two specialized shops, as well as a shop with cafeteria where products of the members of the movement are sold. These activities are carried out by MAOES’ marketing branch El Salvador Organics.

Supermarkets are selling some fresh vegetables and fruit as well as processed products. There are also local markets in the city of San Salvador and in the interior of the country. Most of them are run by member organizations of MAOES or organizations supported by the government.

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Exports

The main export markets are the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, UK, France, Belgium, Italy and Australia.

El Salvador: Export value of major products. Originally published in FiBL/IFOAM: 'The World of Organic Agriculture 2009'. Frick, Bonn, Geneva.

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Participatory guarantee system

In the framework of a project to promote the organic sector (carried out by the consortium CLUSA-CORDES), MOAES initiated three producers groups in different part of the country and started to implement Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS).

It is hoped that, in 2009, this work can be continued with other groups. All of them are expecting to use a PGS seal that should help them to market their products on the national market.

Legislation

There is a directive on organic production, processing and certification (Decreto No. 52 of May 2004).

Currently a law is being drawn and a new version of the existing rules for the production, processing, handling and certification of organic products is underway.

The new rules were elaborated by the Ministry of Agriculture MAG and the members of MAOES .

As a reference the Codex Alimentarius was used.

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Government and international support

Some state extension services are offering advice. This is, however, limited, as not all advisors are trained in organic agriculture. The export promotion agency – Exporta El Salvador – and the Ministry of Agriculture MAG are co-financing the participation of organic enterprises at trade fairs as well as international marketing activities.

The main international cooperation agencies active in the country in the field of organic agriculture are those from Austria, Spain and Switzerland.

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Research & advice

Currently, research is mainly carried out by producers on their own accord. The agricultural research institutes normally do not work on organic agriculture.

Some small research projects are carried out by the students of the University of El Salvador and those of other training institutions.

Technical assistance and training for farmers is offered by NGOs in the framework of various projects.

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Outlook

It is expected that organic agriculture will see a further positive development in the future.

The activities of MAOES in the five past years have made a major growth of the cultivated area possible as well as a diversification of products and markets.

Additionally, the government policy will support organic agriculture. Once implemented, it can be expected that a positive effect on the development of organic agriculture will be felt in the short and medium term.

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Author

Contact

Beatriz Alegría
Mercadeo - CLUSA El Salvador
Calle La Ceiba y 3a. Calle Poniente
#5010, Col. Escalón
San Salvador
El Salvador
Tel. +503 2264 7106
beatrizalegria@no-spam.integra.com.sv
www.elsalvadororganico.com.sv

Contact

Beatriz Alegría
Mercadeo - CLUSA El Salvador
Calle La Ceiba y 3a. Calle Poniente
#5010, Col. Escalón
San Salvador
El Salvador
Tel. +503 2264 7106
beatrizalegria@no-spam.integra.com.sv
www.elsalvadororganico.com.sv