Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | September 21, 2007

Organic farming for positive lives

LOCALS will be afforded the chance to explore opportunities available in organic farming.

TechnoServe Deputy Director Lance Stewart said there was a growing trend across the world whereby consumers were going back to organic produce.”During the Agriculture Day during this year’s Trade Fair, representatives from the Organic Freedom Project (OFP) will deliver presentations on available opportunities within the organic produce environment and how best local farmers as well as entrepreneurs can access them,” he said.

“This offers a lot of opportunities for rural farmers to engage in businesses that can have a positive impact in their lives.”

The OFP is a partnership of South African companies, Anglo-American and Pick ‘n Pay, which aims to establish organic farming in southern Africa. It has available markets for organic products in all Pick ‘n Pay stores in southern Africa, ranging from textiles, organic cotton, fruits, vegetables, milk, chickens and eggs, amongst others.

On another note, the TechnoServe deputy director warned that farmers should not take organic farming as an easier option.

“Even the feed given to the animals should be organic before the end product can be certified as such.”

As a result, he said this then presented another business opportunity for farmers as there would be a need for some of them to provide feed for the producers of the end product.

Stewart said farmers could turn around small sectors like indigenous chickens into viable organic businesses that could impact rural farmers’ lives by providing them with extra income.

However, he said the markets demand that farmers should form themselves into groups as this made working easier for both the market and them and this approach enabled as many farmers to hold on to as well as join the markets, through their respective associations.

“Conventional markets demand consistent supplies and volumes, as such, when farmers commit to supplying these markets, they shouldn’t make half hearted attempts,” Stewart advised.

Meanwhile, consumer demand for organic foods continues to increase and high volume sales through mass outlets like supermarkets, is rapidly replacing the direct farmer connection. This large growth is predicted to continue and many companies are jumping into the market. A ‘certified organic’ label is usually the only way for consumers to know that a processed product is such.

What is organic food?

At first, organic food comprised mainly fresh vegetables. Earlier, consumers interested in organic food would look for chemical-free, fresh or minimally processed food. They mostly had to buy directly from growers. Small farms grew vegetables (and raised livestock) using organic farming practices, with or without certification and the individual consumer monitored.

For supermarket consumers, food production is not easily observable and product labelling, like ‘certified organic’, is relied on. Government regulations and third-party inspectors are looked to for assurance.

According to information sourced from the internet, sales within the organic food industry are produced according to certain production standards. For crops, it means they are grown without the use of conventional pesticides nor artificial fertilisers and are processed without radiation and food additives. Animals, are raised without the use of antibiotics and hormones.

related link: http://www.observer.org.sz/ 

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Responses

  1. We are looking at providing technical support to a group of 20 farmers in one of the rural communities in Swaziland to produce organic cotton on 260 hectares (this can be increased to up to 1000 hectares). We currently assessing an interest from potential buyers like Pick n Pay on whether they would purchase organic cotton for their textile requirements especially taking into account the current global recession. If so, what would be the quantities. A response would be greately appreciated.


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