Facilitating Agriculture Commodity Trade FAQs


Forest and/or eco- certification programs provide for a independent or  third-party certification of forest management, helping to ensure that it is environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable. These programs provide a market mechanism allowing producers and consumers to identify and purchase timber and non-timber forest products from well-managed forests. The advantages to business and communities are several fold, but notably enhanced economic returns from sustainably managed forest resources.

The most well recognised forest certification scheme is that developed by the Forest Stewardship Council (or FSC). The FSC scheme enshrines nine principles as follows:

Compliance with Laws and FSC Principles: Forest management shall respect all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and international treaties and agreements to which the country is a signatory, and comply with all FSC Principles and Criteria.

Tenure and Use Rights and Responsibilities:  Long-term tenure and use rights to the land and forest resources shall be clearly defined, documented and legally established.

Indigenous Peoples' Rights: The legal and customary rights of indigenous peoples to own, use and manage their lands, territories, and resources shall be recognised and respected.

Community Relations and Worker’s Rights: Forest management operations shall maintain or enhance the long-term social and economic well being of forest workers and local communities.

Benefits from the Forest: Forest management operations shall encourage the efficient use of the forest's multiple products and services to ensure economic viability and a wide range of environmental and social benefits.

Environmental Impact:  Forest management shall conserve biological diversity and its associated values, water resources, soils, and unique and fragile ecosystems and landscapes, and, by so doing, maintain the ecological functions and the integrity of the forest.

Management Plan:  A management plan appropriate to the scale and intensity of the operations shall be written, implemented, and kept up to date. The long term objectives of management, and the means of achieving them, shall be clearly stated.

Monitoring and Assessment:  Monitoring shall be conducted appropriate to the scale and intensity of forest management to assess the condition of the forest, yields of forest products, chain of custody, management activities and their social and environmental impacts. 

Maintenance of High Conservation Value Forests: Management activities in high conservation value forests shall maintain or enhance the attributes which define such forests. Decisions regarding high conservation value forests shall always be considered in the context of a precautionary approach.

The FSC Chain-of-Custody Certification system enables tracking of FSC certified wood from the forest management enterprise, through the wood processing companies to the retailers (and sometimes even to building projects), so that true FSC Labels and claims can be attached onto the FSC certified wood products.


Agroforestry is an integrated approach of using the interactive benefits from combining trees and shrubs with crops and/or livestock. It combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems and was formerly the major land-use system traditionally practiced in the Pacific Island. In almost every situation in the Pacific Islands there are economic, sustainability and environmental advantages of combining crops with trees. If growing trees is the major purpose then these should always be established together with suitable agricultural crops in the early years: appropriate intercropping regimes greatly reduce the costs of weeding and also ensure better tree growth. Usually in the first 1-2 years all types of crops can be grown – peanuts and other legumes provide good nitrogen boost, whilst cassava can provide useful low windbreak. In year three and later years more shade tolerant crops such as Xanthosoma taro, cocoa, Flemingia, bananas, sago, ferns and medicinal plants can be grown. If growing agricultural crops is the main purpose, then trees should look to be incorporated as windbreaks, live fences/boundary markers, to fix nitrogen and recycle nutrients from deeper soil layers, and mixed species plantings and multipurpose trees can provide a myriad of other products (food, medicines, timbers etc). Long lived trees such as Canarium nut, breadfruit and coconut also have a role in storing atmospheric carbon, and such systems may in future be supported through a system of trading in carbon credits.
Useful sources of agroforestry information for Pacific Islands include:
·         Traditional Trees of Pacific Islands: www.agroforestry.net/tti/ttbook.html
·         Agroforestry in the Pacific islands: systems for sustainability www.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/80824e/80824E01.htm
·         Samoa, Tonga, Kiribati and Tuvalu : a review of uses and status of trees and forests in land use systems with recommendations for future actions / based on the work of R.R. Thaman and W.A. Whistler
·         World Agroforestry Centre website: www.worldagroforestrycentre.org
SPC’s Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees, with assistance from EU-FACT, is in the process of compiling a collection germplasm, seed and tissue-cultured plantlets, of Pacific Islands trees and shrubs which will then be made available to Pacific Island members of SPC under a Standard Materials Transfer Agreement.

To start with, the organic certification process depends partially on your situation. In the Pacific islands region ‘Group Certification” is often desirable for small holder producer groups. Alternatively stand alone or single entities or enterprises (producer or processor) can apply for certification.

Usually with all certifiers there is a three-year transition period to go from non-certified to certified organic.  The time to certification can sometimes be shortened if the group or applicant can show records to prove that no prohibited substances have been used in or near the production areas.
Record-keeping is crucial for organic certification.  You have to follow rules set out in the Organic standards of your certifier or that of the country you wish to export to. The Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom), developed the ‘Pacific Organic Standard’ (POS), for the Pacific Region which is in the process of seeking equivalence  with the European Union’s (EU) organic standard and will then pursue equivalence with Australian Organic Standard (AOS), National Organic Program (NOP-USDA) and Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS).
Existing certifiers such as BFA, NASAA, Biogro etc will be able to apply to be accredited to certify to the POS through the POETCom.
Till the POETCom’s POS is able to gain equivalence with other national organic programs and should you wish to pursue organic certification you will need to choose a certifying agency as your certifier.  NASAA, BFA, BioGrow, are EcoCert are some of the certifiers that are known to be operating in the region.
The national organic program’s of the importing countries is usually administered by the Federal Government although in some instances like New Zealand the organic standards are private. It delegates the operation of the National Organic Program to certifying agencies, and has an accrediting process to identify which certifying agencies it accepts. When you work with one of those agencies, you pay them to send an inspector to your operation, to audit your records and see what your procedures are, and to verify that you are following organic standards. 
Your inspector will be your primary source of information on program rules and will be the person who will interpret any unclear portions of the rules for you.  Should you feel that there is a misinterpretation of the rules, there is an appeals process to follow.
A Step by Step Procedure:
1.    Collect information on and read up on Organic Certification, Organic standards and National Organic programs.
2.    Contact some certifiers for information on their program -- their requirements, how inspections are conducted, whether they are familiar with products like yours, and costs.
3.    Ensure to find out if the certifying agency can audit your business on the importing countries standards.
4.   Choose a certifier and begin working with them, developing your recordkeeping system and going through the transition period.

HACCP stands for Hazard Analytical Critical Control Point.

The increasing reports of food borne outbreaks  and the continuous  growing concerns of food safety  by public health authorities, consumers and other concerned parties has led to the development of HACCP which is an instrument used by food manufacturers to ensure microbiological, chemical and physical  safety of food stuffs.


The Pacific Regional Trade Statistics Database project, funded by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) through its Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project, is on track to launch an online, freely accessible and searchable database.
The database will enable interested parties from around the world to access and analyse export and import data from 10 Pacific countries (Cook Islands, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu), at a Harmonized System code six-digit level, providing a level of accuracy and detail hitherto unavailable in the Pacific region.
Launching the database online will further increase the number of users in the region and their level of access to accurate trade data. This will significantly assist stakeholders both within and outside the region to develop accurate trade policy, better engage in trade negotiations and identify market opportunities. It will also reduce the burden on Pacific Island statistical departments to respond to external data requests.
Through this project, SPC will continue to provide capacity building assistance to government statistics departments and to contribute to improving the quality and availability of statistical information on trade

The European Union-funded Facilitating Agricultural Commodity Trade (FACT) project is implemented by the Land Resources Division of SPC.