Launch of Africa Organic News
| || 1. Launch of AFRICA ORGANIC NEWS|
The effectiveness of the AOSC in being an information warehouse on
organic happenings in Africa depends to a large extent to the
contributions it gets from stakeholders. The AOSC invites all people
involved in organic agriculture at any level, in Africa and beyond, to
contribute articles, news, questions, debates and perspectives to do
with its development in Africa.
The AOSC newsletter is one channel through which players in organic
agriculture in Africa can let each other know about developments in
their countries. Where there are similar projects taking place in
different parts of the continent, the newsletter will make it possible
for groups who might not have known about each other’s work and
experiences to share and learn from each other. It is also an avenue
through which organic partners in the rest of the world can keep tabs
on events in Africa, and contribute to and learn from them as well. The
Africa Organic Newsletter is thus a key instrument in IFOAM’s mission
of “leading, uniting and assisting the organic world in its full
The Africa Organic Newsletter will come out once every month. The
newsletter, as well as the Africa page of IFOAM’s website, will be
used to highlight conferences, workshops and organic events of interest
in Africa and elsewhere. All organic stakeholders are invited to submit
details of relevant meetings and events for featuring in the newsletter
and on the website. Resolutions, election results, proceedings and
other outcomes of these meetings are also invited. Feedback on the
newsletter itself is also welcome.
The usefulness and relevance of this newsletter to the promotion of
the growth of organic agriculture in Africa depends to a great extent
on you the reader and organic stakeholder. Submissions in both English and French are welcome.
AOSC moves to Senegal
2. IFOAM’s Africa Center moves to Senegal
The World Board of IFOAM established the Africa Organic Service Centre
(AOSC) in 2004 to help promote and to support the growth of organic
agriculture on the continent. Its temporary home was in Kampala, Uganda
until last year when Dakar, Senegal was chosen as the long-term
location of the AOSC. It’s recently appointed coordinator, Chido
Makunike, moved to Dakar in December 2005 to begin the process of
setting up the AOSC.
Among many considerations of the WB in setting up the AOSC in Senegal
was to help to give special assistance in the growth of the organic
sector in west and Francophone Africa. Although IFOAM’s “official
language” is English, plans are being prepared to have the AOSC also
communicate in French to facilitate contact with parts of Africa that
have felt left out of the organic mainstream because of the language
The general guidelines of the AOSC’s work are the IFOAM 2008 plan and
the AOSC strategic plan. The latter was produced at a strategic
planning workshop of prominent members of the African organic sector in
Nairobi, Kenya in June 2004. The four pillars of that plan are (1)
institutionalizing the organic sector in Africa through the
strengthening of national organic movements (2) promoting organic
agriculture as a holistic, realistic development option (3) assisting
with the development of local markets and standards (4) assisting with
the development of policy frameworks for organic agriculture to be
taken more seriously and supported.
Much of the AOSC’s work will initially be in the form of the gathering
and dissemination of information on developments in the African organic
sector. The AOSC will regularly update the Africa page of the IFOAM
website, as well as send a monthly electronic newsletter to subscribing
stakeholders. A number of moderated Internet-based discussion groups on
various topics of interest to the African organic sector will also be
The limitations of relying so much on information technology for
information exchange on a continent where access to the Internet is
growing but still very limited is recognized. But even with those
limitations, this method has the greatest potential to reach a large
number of people spread over a vast continent with the financial means
available to the AOSC.
Networking and information exchange through workshops, conferences and
other means will also be a key part of the AOSC’s work. Involvement in
projects and much of the AOSC’s work will take place through and with
member organizations all over the continent.
Advisory Committee meets to reaffirm commitment to AOSC
On the formation of the Africa Organic Service Centre by the IFOAM
World Board in 2004, an Advisory Committee of eminent and influential
players in the African organic sector was appointed to guide the
centre. The Advisory Committee held its fourth meeting since the AOSC’s
formation, and the first in Dakar, on December 15 and 16 2005.
Rene Tokannou from Benin served as chair. Also present were
Charles Walaga from Uganda, Diana Callear from South Africa, Joseph
Mutura (Kenya), El Hadji Hamath Hane (Senegal) and Sue Edwards
(Ethiopia).Committee member Mwatima Juma from Tanzania was
overwhelmingly voted onto the World Board at the IFOAM General Assembly
in Australia in October 2005. Prior commitments prevented her
participation in the Advisory Committee meeting. Anne Boor, IFOAM’s
Manager of International Projects represented the Head Office at the
meeting. Souleymane Bassoum, a prominent organic activist from Senegal
was invited to the meeting as a special guest. He and El Hadji Hane
have been instrumental in providing support for the setting up of the
AOSC in Senegal.
The meeting served to cement the move of the AOSC from Uganda to
Senegal, and was also the first opportunity for the committee to
formally meet the new coordinator. The meeting took the opportunity to
take stock of what the AOSC had achieved since its formation and lay
the foundation for the achievement of missed and new targets. Many
procedural issues were also discussed for transmission to the World
Board for guidance and decision.
The committee warmly welcomed Chido as the new coordinator and pledged
to assist him in his task of giving the growth of organic agriculture
in Africa a boost.
News in brief
| || 3. Hivos supports the AOSC |
The Dutch NGO and funding partner to development organizations all over the world Hivos hardly needs any introduction.
The institutional support for IFOAM’s AOSC comes from a three year
(2005 to 2007) grant from Hivos. This support covers the basic running
costs of the AOSC, as well the information gathering and dissemination
initiatives. Part of the agreement between Hivos and IFOAM is that the
AOSC be involved in various organic projects for which IFOAM is
responsible for raising funds.
Most of these projects are in partnership with other organizations
involved in various aspects of the promotion of organic agriculture in
Africa. Developments to do with these various projects will form a key
continuing part of the dissemination of information from the AOSC
through both the website and the Africa Organic News.
IFOAM establishes information CONTACT POINTS
As another part of its outreach and information dissemination work,
IFOAM is establishing several information Contact Points across
Africa. Their role will be to provide a two-way mechanism of
information exchange between IFOAM and organic stakeholders. The
contact points will be repositories of publications and information
about IFOAM, including on membership.
It is recognized that Africa is too vast and the needs of organic
agriculture too great for any one strategy to be sufficient to meet
those needs. And the AOSC will not be able to effectively deal with all
queries from across the continent from its location in Dakar. So within
its modest means IFOAM seeks to maximize its vast network of member and
like-minded organizations to support the growth of organic agriculture
in Africa and elsewhere. The Contact Points will help to bring IFOAM
closer to African stakeholders in a less remote, more personal way.
Many criteria will be used for designating member organizations or
regional bodies as contact points. Among these will be
regional/geographic balance, capacity for the contact point to
disseminate and receive information, as well as established record of
organic or sustainable development advocacy. It is envisioned that
being an IFOAM contact point will merely be an addition to the advocacy
work an organization or network is already involved in.
The Contact Points will work closely with the AOSC coordinator.
Call for electronic discussion group moderators, participants
Yet another aspect of the AOSC’s information outreach is the hosting of
electronic discussion groups on various topics to do with organic
agriculture in Africa. This is a way to try to ensure member
participation and discussion on issues of concern to them.
For participants, this is a forum provided by the AOSC that allows them to be heard by like-minded people far and wide.
It is envisioned that each topic will be discussed for a defined
period, with the conclusions of the electronic discussion then being
summarized and perhaps further disseminated, depending on its import.
By their nature discussion groups must be led by people with a
particular passion for an issue and who will make the time to
periodically log in, make their contributions and respond to those of
others. The AOSC hereby calls for suggestions on topics of burning
interest and relevance to organic agriculture in Africa. Motivated
moderators and participants are key to the success of this idea.
Volunteers are invited to get in touch with the AOSC Coordinator with
their topic proposals and their credentials.
The first discussion groups will be in English but once those are
established, discussion groups in French will be expected to soon
Africa Organic Service Center
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email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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