Updated: May 3
The effect of new EU regulation on Deforestation to Zimbabwe horticulture exporters:
The European Parliament recently voted to adopt the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) which will prohibit companies from putting products on the EU market that are associated with deforestation or forest degradation, or that were illegally produced.
During a tour of Horticulture with EU Ambassador von Kirchmann in February he put emphasis on that “the regulation will come into effect from January 2024, early adoption of the new regulations by your members to maintain their competitive edge will be critical and a huge advantage.” His comments stuck with me for some time after the visit and piqued my curiosity, here’s what we understand about what our exporters will face with this.
The new EU regulation on deforestation aims to prevent the import of products that contribute to deforestation and forest degradation. This includes products such as tea and coffee, soy, palm oil, and beef, which are often associated with deforestation in tropical regions. As horticulture exports from Zimbabwe are not typically associated with deforestation, it is unlikely that the new EU regulation will have a direct impact on these exports. However, if Zimbabwean horticulture producers rely on inputs or materials that contribute to deforestation, such as packaging made from unsustainable sources or fibres, including printed packaging, and fertilizers produced from palm oil, may face challenges in meeting the new EU requirements. Furthermore, if Zimbabwean horticulture producers operate in areas where deforestation is occurring or have links to companies involved in deforestation activities, they may also face scrutiny under the new EU regulation. This could potentially lead to restrictions on their exports to the EU market. This highlights the growing importance of sustainable production practices and responsible sourcing for all agricultural products.
Mandatory due diligence
“The regulation requires companies to prove their supply chains do not contribute to the destruction or degradation of forests. They may only place on the market and export products that are deforestation-free and have been produced in accordance with the relevant legislation of the country of production. Risk is categorized into low and high risk.
‘Operators’ - companies that first place goods covered by the legislative scope on the EU market, or export them - must conduct due diligence in order to be sure that the risk of their products being associated with deforestation or forest degradation is low. RISK IS Additionally, ‘traders’ (companies merely trading goods which are already placed on the EU market) who are not Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), will also be required to conduct due diligence.
The regulation specifies requirements for each step of the due diligence process, i.e. an obligation to collect information on their supply chains, perform risk assessments and implement risk mitigation actions where necessary.
It is envisaged that many companies are likely to need to adopt methods such as satellite monitoring, isotope testing, visiting production sites and training suppliers, and provide authorities with access to geographical and other relevant data attesting to the origin of the products.
Under the EUDR, the due diligence process requires companies to obtain precise geolocation coordinates of where the product was produced. This stringent traceability requirement is intended to guarantee that only products free from deforestation access the EU market, and that enforcement agencies in Member States have the tools necessary to verify this is the case.
The geolocation and traceability requirements pose a very significant challenge for many operators. Meeting them could require sizeable investments in time and capital for some of these companies. It will also be important to ensure that the use of digital traceability technologies does not disadvantage groups such as smallholders, women and youth who are trying to gain export market access.
Operators will have to keep their due diligence systems (DDS) up to date to ensure that they can guarantee compliance with the requirements and review them at least once a year.”
Let us know in the comments how you see this affecting your exports? We’d love to hear your views on it.