THE export of organic products in 2003 was greatly assisted by the European Union’s recognition of Costa Rica’s organic certification norms, the Ministry of Agriculture announced on Monday.
Costa Rica is the only Central American country to have received recognition from the European Union for organic products, according to the ministry.
Last year, Costa Rica exported 4.6 million kilograms of organic products, including 2.7 million to the European Union.
Costa Rica’s organic producers also exported to the United States (1.7 million kg), Taiwan, Switzerland, Japan and Canada. It was the first year statistics on organic exports were compiled, according to the ministry.
Costa Rica exported more than 3,900 certified organic products, including bananas, cocoa, coffee and blackberries, as well as processed items such as banana puree, dehydrated banana, brown sugar, concentrated juice and essential orange and passion fruit oils.
Organic farming can be environmentally advantageous because it avoids the use of pesticides, and also economically advantageous, particularly for smaller farmers, according to the ministry.
Organic coffee, for example, sells for 30-100% more than conventional beans. Local distribution of organic products has increased. Three years ago, organic products could be found in only two or three places, according to the ministry.
Today they can be purchased in at least 19 places in the country (TT, March 5).
The United Kingdom-based Soil Association reviewed more than 400 research papers and concluded there is scientific evidence to support the claim that organically grown food is safer and healthier for the body than food conventionally grown using chemicals and pesticides.