Market Access is Not Easy: the case of Dendrobium devonianum Paxt in Longling
Posted on behalf of Yingbin Guo, Master’s Student, Yunnan University
I always thought that the market was there and any product could be sold freely but the case of Dendrobium devonianum Paxt in Longling has changed my opinion.
Dendrobium is a medical and edible, dual purpose plant, which is said to nourish lungs and stomachs, clear heat and promote fluid, moistening lungs to stop coughs, removing liver-fire for improving eyesight and improve immune function. It can also be prepared as Dendrobium tea, Dendrobium wine, Dendrobium soup, Dendrobium juice and so on. It is one of the ten magic herbs in China. In China, the most famous (and bestselling) Dendrobium species is Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo. The utility is similar between the Dendrobium devonianum Paxt in Longling and Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo, but the finished product of Dendrobium devonianum Paxt cannot be sold in the market. This often leads to it being camouflaged as Dendrobium officinale Kimura et Migo for sale, due to the regulation of market access.
The market access of Dendrobium devonianum Paxt in Longling is an administrative determination. In China, the National Health and Family Planning Commission is in charge of the formulation of food safety standards. The animal or plant must remain as a raw material unless it has already met the standards and then can enter the new food raw materials catalogue. Otherwise, it cannot obtain the production license for products. Similarly, the China Food and Drug Administration and the National Health and Family Planning Commission together established the Chinese Pharmcopoeia Commission. Only after entering the Chinese Pharmacopoeia, can a product enter the market as a qualified pharmaceutical raw material. At present, the Dendrobium Devonianum Paxt failed to enter the catalogue and Chinese Pharmacopoeia. Without this, it cannot be used as a raw material for food and medicine, so it is blocked from the market.
Certification is another way to control market access, and the certification system includes a set of certification standards and bodies. Only products that pass the certification can gain market recognition. Certification bodies can obtain certification qualification from the government or NGO. In China, there are three types of certification that concern the environment and technology in the food industry, including non-environmentally damaging food, green food and organic food. If it were to pass the initial registration process, in order to further expand the market share, Longling Dendrobium will face the challenge of this kind of market access.
The original intention of the market access system is to keep unsafe products out of the market to protect the safety of consumers. Market access is a form of credit guarantee, as long as the product can be affixed with a “green label” which indicates that it is good quality, it can reduce the transaction costs of consumers who often need some information about the goods. In spite of the high cost and low efficiency of market access, it is a worthwhile process for the relevant actors and stakeholders.