Useful Papers


Spices can be classified within a group of agricultural commodities known as ‘high-value commodities’, as they are not normally traditional or staple crops and can be far more lucrative than other ‘normal’ crops. There is a body of research that looks into why developing countries should be involved in, and how they can get involved with, producing these high-value crops for the export market.

Background information on herbs and spices, where they are produced, what they used for, etc., can be found at:

For an excellent analysis on the value of high-value products for developing country farmers, go to:

For more specific analysis on the topic of small-scale farmers in the sub-Saharan region, please see the following paper:

Other information on similar topics can be found at the following locations:

Proceedings, speeches and summary of events from the forum for Global Agricultural Research (GFAR) on ‘How the poor can benefit from growing markets for high-value products’ (2005) can be found at:

Related to the above list of papers and links is the idea that agricultural trade can help to alleviate poverty in the rural areas of developing countries, and especially those in sub-Saharan Africa. As many farmers from these regions are small-scale or subsistence farmers, becoming part of the international value chain in agricultural commodities is a particularly challenging task.

Nevertheless there are some papers/resources that deal with this particular issue. For more information on poverty reduction through trade, please read the following two publications from the United Nations and USAID:

For information on sustainable agriculture and rural livelihoods in developing countries see:

Another important aspect affecting trade in agricultural products is that of changing consumer tastes and habits and shifting food consumption patterns. As people move towards eating healthier foods and foods from more diverse origins and ethnicities, the food products being in demand will change. At the same time there are emerging trends in eating out more often, eating pre-cooked and pre-packaged foods, and other convenient innovations in food preparation and distribution. Added to these emerging trends are those from the food retail industry: as retail chains become increasingly globalised, so the demand for different food products changes as they become more easily obtainable. Increasingly, new agricultural sources and value chains are integrated into a global system. For more information on some of these concepts, please visit the following websites:

New Directions in Global Food Markets (USDA), at:

Market power and global value chains can be read at the following sites:

Various regulations, including tariffs and non-tariff barriers, also affect trade in horticultural commodities. Some of the regulations that affect trade in fruit and vegetables can be read about at:

For an overview of some of the technical issues facing the agricultural industry, please see:

 Trade and the size of markets

For an excellent source of information on global agricultural trade patterns and the integration of developing countries into this global trade, one should read the following paper. It gives an excellent analysis of global trends and numerous issues that face developing countries as they try to participate in international trade in many agricultural commodities. The paper includes information on preferential access, standards, policies and reforms:

For information on general world trends in spices, please visit:

For information regarding specific products, the International Trade Centre’s Product Map has many useful market analysis reports, market news services, some price information and links to many other useful sites. This service is, however, not free, but if you are in South Africa we may be able to arrange use of the service through TIPS. For more information on Product Map, please visit:

Regional information

Information on the US markets:

Information on the European Markets (industrial food ingredients):

Information on the Danish market, including statistics from regional development projects aimed at increasing imports from developing countries:

Information on the Netherlands market and other European markets:

Information on the Chinese market:

Information on Japanese markets:

Information on exports of herbs and spices from Ecuador:

SADC region

An excellent starting point when looking at the SADC region is a document by USAID covering four countries in the SADC region: Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. This can be found at:

Information about Zambia and the export prospects of high-value agricultural commodities:

This survey is part of a series including other SADC countries (Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa). These can be found at:

Information about Mozambique and the Beira Corridor and its  fruit and flower production can be found at:

Organic produce

One of the fastest growing sectors in international trade is that of organic produce, especially in the EU, the US and the more developed countries in Asia. Horticulture is particularly well suited to organic production, and consumers in the developed world have taken to organic horticulture more readily than other organic products. Below is a number of links to various websites and papers that discuss the markets for organic products.

The best place to start would be with the following paper published by the International Trade Centre in Geneva:

The International Trade Centre also has a library of articles on organic produce, standards and surveys of various countries’ markets. This can be found at:

One such paper in the above library is that concerning the size and structure of the US organic market:

Or for information about organic food trends and price indexes in the US, as well as a host of links to other organic sites, please visit:

For more information on organic fruit and vegetable production for developing countries, and the potential for exporting this organic produce, please refer to the comprehensive United Nations paper, which can be found at:

For more information about organic produce sold in the EU, but originating from Caricom countries, see:

For more information about organic produce that is specific to the Asia region go to:

For information about the organic produce market in the US and the higher price premiums fetched in these markets, go to:

Or for information about organic food trends and price indexes in the US, visit:

Practical information

For practical information on how to grow various agriculture commodities, please see the following site:

Standards and legislation

Food standards and labels play an increasingly important role in the export prospects of developing countries in many agricultural commodities. An excellent site with news, papers, articles and other links is the agrifoodstandards section of the Natural Resources Institute website. Topics include ‘food miles’, organic food demand and responses by retailers and fair trade:

For information on market access requirements for the EU, visit: