Egyptian Traceability Centre for Agro-industrial Exports

March 17, 2019
Challenge Egypt has long been an important producer and exporter of various crops to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Today, its agro-industrial sector accounts for 20 per cent of the country’s exports, most of which are to the European Union. Because Egypt benefits from different harvest periods, its farmers can offer a wide range of produce without competing with European Union farmers. However, Egypt’s lack of traceability compliance and quality control systems meant that its exporters faced trade barriers resulting from regulations on food safety and circulation. ( ) Towards a Solution In 2004, at the request of the Government of Egypt, UNIDO established the Egyptian Traceability Centre for Agro-Industrial Exports, known as ETRACE and funded through the Italian-Egyptian Debt-for-Development Swap programme. The Centre’s aim is to make Egyptian agro-industrial exports safer for consumers, more competitive and compliant with stringent global market standards and regulations. The Centre was further merged with the Food Technology Centre and renamed the Agriculture and Agro-Industries Technology Centre (ATM); it is part of the network of technology centres under the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Since its establishment, ATM/ETRACE has developed a reputation as a domestic and South-South centre of excellence on traceability, food safety and quality enhancement and supplier development. In more than 15 countries, the project has supported national stakeholders on traceability, food safety and agro-industrial value chains and in guiding farmers, food producers and packinghouses to meet international food- quality, safety and traceability standards. This has resulted in greater assurance that products are safe for consumers in both domestic and international markets and do not encounter barriers to trade. By introducing automated traceability systems, ATM/ ETRACE has helped more than 45,000 farmers to reduce the use of chemicals and to acquire certification for their exports. The concept has been adapted in partner countries in order to fit a particular subsector and cultural requirements. Moreover, the project has addressed key pro-poor development issues by fostering the participation of small-scale growers and suppliers in formal supply chains in a phased approach by partnering with global retailers such as METRO/MAKRO and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Its services have reached China, Costa Rica, the Philippines, the Republic of Moldova, South Africa and many Arab countries. The project has been institutionalized in national agro-industries and food technology centres affiliated with the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry. These interventions have transformed the way in which countries approach their agro-industrial production and exports. The Philippines, for example, has replicated the whole model as ”P-Trace” within the framework of a European Union project. ATM/ETRACE has a strong capacity-building and technical assistance approach in applying traceability systems and upgrading technology and management systems, thereby enhancing productivity, increasing quality and safety, and reducing post-harvest losses. South-South activities include training and capacity- building programmes in partner countries supported by e-learning and remote assistance as well as the organization of study tours and technical missions to various stakeholders in Egypt. In addition, specific comprehensive cooperation programmes have resulted in the full replication of the model in the Philippines (P-Trace) and in a partnership with the Union of Maghreb Agronomists conducting traceability assessments in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia (MAG- Trace). The project’s strong capacity development and experts’ training components (including training of trainers) also ensure the long-term viability of the ETRACE approach in implementing traceability schemes. In Egypt, the project has been transformed into a national centre affiliated with the Ministry of Trade and Industry. In addition to its full replication in the Philippines (P-Trace), the ETRACE model has been picked up elsewhere in many countries. This includes its replication in the olive oil and apples subsector in Lebanon, led by non-governmental organizations and business associations; for the table grapes sector in the Republic of Moldova; and for capacity-building in many other countries, such as Algeria, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia. The main critical factors in shifting from awareness and capacity- building to full implementation are national will and availability of funds. Partners include farmers, food producers, farming communities, national agro-industrial companies, packinghouses, the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry, Italian Development Cooperation and UNIDO. Regional partners include ministries of trade, industry and agriculture; non-governmental organizations; and retail chains. Italian Development Cooperation, the MDG Fund (Spain), the Netherlands, the Swiss Development Agency, UNIDO and the METRO Group have provided financial support. Contact: Mr. Gerardo Patacconi; Mr. Arabi Fadl, or; General information: Project name: Egyptian Traceability Centre for Agro-industrial Exports (ETRACE) Countries: Egypt (with services reached China, Costa Rica, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, South Africa and many countries in the Arab States region) Sustainable Development Goal targets: 8.a, 9.3, 9.4, 12.2 Supported by: Italian Development Cooperation (originally through the Italian-Egyptian Debt-for-Development Swap Programme), MDG Fund (Spain), Netherlands, Swiss Development Agency, UNIDO, METRO Group Implementing entities: Italian Development Cooperation, UNIDO Project status: Ongoing Project period: 2004 to present URL of the practice: Related resources: Trace Me Back (UNIDO pamphlet).