A push for safe and clean food in Asian countries and China in particular, sees Chinese agents actively seeking organic producers in Australia for large volume and immediate orders; and could lead to a collaborative Chinese-Australian approach to biological farm training, says Craig Sobey, Chairman of the Central Victorian Organic Network (CVON). Mr. Sobey said while China is set to boom, farming remains central to their way of life in many provinces.
He says there is now strong government support for the development of biological farming systems that reduce the plaguing effects of chemical use, such as contaminated water and that Australia is seen by Chinese consumers as the a benchmark in the production of ‘safe food.’
“All our overseas marketing excursions have shown us that Australian produce in the eyes of an Asian consumer, is like the Volvo of food – there is absolute recognition of its safety,” he said.
“Asian pacific countries are very concerned about the potential of an unreliable food chain and risks this poses for their children. That’s driving up demand for products like Australian organic, but it’s also driving the need for a collaborated information network.”
Mr. Sobey said though it was in its early infancy, there were plans underway for a project that could see Chinese agricultural students study biological systems in Australia.
“The Chinese government has released a tender for the delivery of the biological training for farmers. They are actively seeking people to train for biological farming. We are looking to work with them here in Australia and have already had some strong interest from Northern Victorian shires to initiate a ‘friendship agreement’ with specific Chinese provinces, such as Yunnan (the location of the large Yunnan Agricultural University).
Under such a scheme, Chinese agricultural students would come to Australia to learn how to farm under Australian organic standards, and then return to farm in China. Mr. Sobey says it provided an opportunity to create key networks in a valuable future market at its outset.
“Australia has been developing its organic standards for years and has an important role to play in mentoring biological farmers in the Asia pacific,” he said.