In progress

Optimising agri-food systems

Risk management, electronic phytosanitary certificates to streamline shipments


The Challenge

The Alliance is supporting Colombia in strengthening its risk management system for agricultural products, cutting costs and delays in shipments and boosting the competitiveness of Colombian products worldwide.

We are also modernising the national system for the exchange of electronic phytosanitary certificates, allowing Colombia to better engage with international trade partners.

Trade risk management practices in Colombia, particularly in the agricultural sector, rely heavily on physical inspections of goods, leading to delays in shipments and extra costs for traders. Processes also tend to focus more on the control of goods than on the control of data, resulting in inefficient use of resources and, ultimately, lower rates of risk detection.

Additionally, phytosanitary certificates controlling the import and export of plant and plant products are issued in hard copy and transferred between traders and government agencies by post or courier. This manual procedure can make for a time-consuming and cumbersome process prone to errors, loss, theft, or fraud.

In implementing this project, the Alliance is drawing on its previous work with the Colombian Food and Drug Agency (INVIMA) on risk management and its experience in implementing the IPPC’s ePhyto solution in several countries including Cameroon, Ecuador, Fiji, Jordan, Madagascar, Morocco, Senegal and Thailand.

What we are doing

We are working with the Colombian Institute of Agriculture (ICA) and other public and private sector stakeholders to optimise ICA’s existing risk management system and ensure its consistent application to all trade activities to reduce physical inspections and increase risk detection.

In parallel, we are introducing a tailored system of electronic phytosanitary certificates, or ePhytos, and support Colombia in joining the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) ePhyto Hub, allowing ICA to exchange ePhytos with trading partners quickly, accurately, and at a low cost.


An optimised risk management system will allow ICA to:

  • better protect public health by focusing on high-risk shipments thanks to fewer physical inspections
  • reduce clearance time for agricultural exports and imports
  • cut costs associated with documentary compliance and clearance processes for private as well as public sector

The use of ePhytos in Colombia will:

  • cut time and cost of trade for animal and plant products
  • further unlock the benefits of international trade through the ePhyto Hub


We will conduct a baseline assessment using data provided by local private sector companies and public sector partners. Similar assessments will also be conducted in the mid- and final stages of the project. Our monitoring, evaluation, and learning team will establish a formal review at the end of the project to chart the broader impact of the initiative.

Project Structure

The project will take 24 months and will have two separate components.

The risk management systems will be optimised in three phases:

  • Phase I : Review of existing risk management strategy
  • Phase II : Implementation of new risk management practises
  • Phase III : Assessment of new operating environment post-implementation

The ePhyto solution will be implemented in four phases:

  • Phase I: Analysis of current business processes to identify opportunities for improvement
  • Phase II: Review of existing regulations on phytosanitary procedures
  • Phase III: Configuration and implementation of the IPPC ePhyto system
  • Phase IV: Evaluation of the effectiveness of the ePhyto solution

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