Ecuador’s agricultural exporters benefited from this project to simplify procedures for trade processes governing plant and plant-based products, beginning with an initial focus on bananas and expanding to include cocoa beans and flowers.
Traders exporting plants or plant products had to acquire a paper phytosanitary certificate to show that the material is considered free from pests and that it complies with plant health regulations. Ecuador aimed to accelerate a shift to digital platforms for this verification process, removing the risk of erroneous, lost, or damaged paperwork that can take time to resolve, leaving stranded produce to spoil.
The Alliance had already gained valuable experience supporting the implementation of this digitalised approach in Jordan, Madagascar, Morocco and Senegal and has other such projects underway in Colombia and Thailand.
What we did
Our project supported Ecuador’s national plant protection agency, AGROCALIDAD, in introducing electronic phytosanitary certificates, or ePhytos, and in joining the “ePhyto Hub”, an initiative led by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat. This electronic hub allows them to electronically exchange ePhytos with trading partners quickly, accurately, and at low cost.
The Alliance worked with the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador and agri-food exporters to pilot the ePhyto system before it is expanded to other agricultural products in future phases.
The use of ePhytos has:
- meant certificates are transferred between parties quickly, accurately and at low cost, reducing the time and cost burden on both traders and border agencies
- reduced the risk of loss or fraud, helping ensure any threats to plant health through trade are stopped in their tracks
- enhanced Ecuador’s trade competitiveness by making it easier to trace and track plant and plant-based shipments, generating greater confidence in quality and origin
- reduced the need for in-person interactions between traders and the authorities at a time when health and hygiene are paramount
Overall, the project can also help drive food security by preventing shipments of food getting stuck and spoiled at border checkpoints.
The Alliance is measuring the time taken for border compliance for agri-food imports and exports using ePhytos to assess our impact on time and cost of trading.
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