The BioFach América Latina 2004, the continent’s biggest organic product fair, ended on Friday in Rio, Brazil, with business worth much more than expected; a reported US$2.6 million (R$8 million).
The fair’s organizers and participants were enthusiastic about the results. Simone Valladares, who makes natural soaps and cosmetics in Nova Friburgo, Rio de Janeiro, says there are many export opportunities and that assistance from the Small Business Administration (Sebrae) and the Export Promotion Agency have been fundamental for the sector.
Biofach is the name of the most important organic product fair that takes place annually in Nuremburg, Germany. The event in Rio was the first Latin American version which should be repeated next year.
Rio de Janeiro Governor, Rosinha Matheus, underscored that her state is the first in Brazil to adopt a policy of incentives for agriculture without the use of pesticides. The state’s Cultivate Organic Program offers farmers a specific credit line with annual interest rates of 2% and a 60-month repayment period.
Esther Craus, the president of the fair, remarked that, among Latin American countries, Brazil has made the greatest progress in measures aimed at the cultivation and commercialization of organic products, which should lower production costs and, consequently, consumer prices.
She pointed out, however, that producers still find it difficult to market what they produce. According to her, the lack of information about organic products also hampers sales.
The purpose of the Biofach is to support developing markets through the provision of technical, scientific, and management information to the organic sector in Latin America.