|January 2007, Vol.2, no.1|
- More Information Available on the Africa Section of the IFOAM Website
- The UN International Trade Centre Announces a New Web Portal for Developing Countries Organic Products: “Organic Link”
- Rockefeller Foundation and Gates Foundations’s Announcement of a New Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Draws Many Reactions
- Farmers Overcome Child Malnutrition Through Organic Farming in Lesotho
- OPPAZ Develops Export and Local Organic Markets in Zambia
- High Cost of Certification Hindering Organic Food Exports in Uganda, According to Ministry of Agriculture Staff Member Ms Didah Kasangati
- Two Papers on Organic Agriculture Presented at the Innovation Africa Symposium
- Organic Cocoa Production Increases Despite Pest Invasions in the Small State of São Tomé and Príncipe
- Untapped Potential of Organic and Natural Products in Madagascar
- The Organic Agriculture Landscape in Senegal
1. More Information Available on the Africa Section of the IFOAM Website
| ||The Africa section of the IFOAM website (available at http://www.ifoam.org/about_ifoam/around_world/africa.html) is now providing information in both French and English. The website has developed substantially, with now a completely new section offering links to existing electronic newsletters on Organic Agriculture in Africa. Newsletters from several African countries can now be consulted on http://www.ifoam.org/about_ifoam/around_world/aosc_|
pages/other_african_newsletters.html. So far, the section contains only newsletters in English, but IFOAM will continue to collect newsletters and develop the availability of French ones. All organizations publishing a newsletter relevant to Organic Agriculture in Africa are invited to contact the IFOAM Africa office coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One major development of the website is the creation of a public discussion forum for topics related to Organic Agriculture in Africa (e.g. “Local marketing of organic produce in Africa”). The public discussion forum is accessible to all stakeholders interested in sharing their views on organics in Africa with others. The forum is moderated by the IFOAM Africa office coordinator. You are invited to check out the discussion topics and leave your contribution on the forum. You can access the forum through a link from the homepage of the Africa section of the IFOAM website, or directly at http://www.ifoam.org/forum_php/viewforum.php?f=1&sid=3b17a6485b9e8fa1d88ccfde
Besides these developments, a large part of the website has been translated into French. Users can easily navigate between the French and English sections as several pages have been completely translated into French. However, many resources such as market surveys and newsletters are currently still only available in English, so the French speaking users shouldn’t be disappointed if they still find pages only available in English at the moment. We encourage all French speakers to make an active use of the French section of the website and to send resources to the coordinator at email@example.com in order to help IFOAM develop the French section.
2. The UN International Trade Centre Announces a New Web Portal for Developing Countries Organic Products: “Organic Link”
| ||The International Trade Centre launched in January 2007 a new web portal for the organic sector. Organic Link (http://www.intracen.org/dbms/organics/index.asp) facilitates contact between importers and exporters of organic products globally and provides an unrivalled source of sector information. The portal organizes information on buyers and markets in a user friendly way that will help exporters and other stakeholders in developing countries get useful information on buyers and markets over the Internet and in a low cost way.|
The site provides:
- A database of importers and exporters: the site comprises a freely available database of importers and exporters of organic products, NGOs and research centers. This will enable buyers to find suppliers according to product and country of origin and similarly exporters to find new buyers. Companies and other interested organizations can register and be listed in the organic market place for free.
- A portal for organic sector information: the website comprises a comprehensive collection of information. It enables the user to access information easily about standards and certification, market research, business news and directories. It also provides links to certification bodies, NGOs and training and research institutes involved in the organic sector worldwide. An FAQ section provides answers to many frequently asked questions of the organic and natural products sectors. Information is also given on the range of technical assistance for the organic sector that ITC is implementing in developing countries.
Visit the new portal at http://www.intracen.org/dbms/organics/index.asp. The International Trade Centre is the technical cooperation agency of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). It is the UN focal point for technical cooperation in trade promotion.
3. Rockefeller Foundation and Gates Foundations’s Announcement of a New Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) Draws Many Reactions
| ||Back in September 2006, the Rockefeller and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations announced in a press release the creation of their joint Alliance to Help Spur “Green Revolution” in Africa. According to the press release, this alliance represents a major effort to move millions of people out of poverty and hunger, with a $150 Million investment to improve Africa’s seed systems. Other organizations published positive reactions to this announcement, such as AgWeb.com, in which a US farmer representative, Dean Kleckner, declared: “The marriage of the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations sends a clear signal that biotechnology has much to offer even the poorest people on the planet”. In response to the announcement, the US Organic Consumers Association, among others, quickly published an opposing article entitled “Bill Gates/Rockefeller Programs to Alleviate Hunger in Africa Via GMOs and Industrialized Farming Are Doomed”.|
The Gates/Rockefeller announcement has drawn a number of grass-roots reactions from African stakeholders themselves, many of whom expressed their worries about this new donor-driven “green revolution” and its possible negative social and ecological impacts. As early as October 2006, a Food First Policy Brief titled: “Ten Reasons Why the Rockefeller and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations' Alliance for Another Green Revolution Will Not Solve the Problems of Poverty and Hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa” gave a kick to the debate. The complete report is available on the following webpage: http://www.foodfirst.org/policybriefs.
Following the report, there has been a lively discussion on an informal mailing list comprising a number of actors in the sustainable and Organic Agriculture field in Africa. Many African representatives expressed their worry that the Gates and Rockefeller initiative would once again benefit the multinational seed companies and destroy Africa’s genetic agro-biodiversity at the expense of small farmers and the environment. John Wilson, a freelance consultant working with organizations involved in the sustainable agriculture field in east and southern Africa, has collected and compiled the numerous contributions to this debate and summarized them in a series of questions which have been made available on the IFOAM Africa discussion forum, under the topic “Food Security and the new Green Revolution for Africa”. Internet users can access this summary and post their contribution on http://www.ifoam.org/forum_php/viewtopic.php?t=36. Joseph Ssuuna of the PELUM Association is keen for PELUM to take a lead in ensuring that this online discussion leads to action by African stakeholders in the months ahead.
4. Farmers Overcome Child Malnutrition Through Organic Farming in Lesotho
| ||Farmers in Nthabiseng, Lesotho have made a significant achievement in overcoming child malnutrition, through a World Vision project promoting organic farming. |
Through organic farming, farmers say they have had their best yields with low cost agriculture inputs and have produced enough food to enable children to eat three full balanced meals a day.
Speaking on behalf of farmers during a farmers’ day held at Serutle village in Nthabiseng, farmer Matheko Lei said that with organic farming farmers now use indigenous seeds and kraal manure to improve soil fertility, instead of using expensive high breed seeds and chemical fertilizers that they could not afford.
“Best yields will enable the community to maintain their food security, where they will be able to provide good nutrition, win the war against malnutrition and prolong the lives of HIV infected people,” Lei said. She appealed to those who were not practicing organic farming to join them, and protect the health of their children through proper nutrition.
Speaking at the same occasion, Botha Bothe District Agriculture Officer Monica Hopkins commended the farmers: “The agricultural exhibits displayed today show that the national food security policy that the government advocates has been achieved by World Vision in Nthabiseng.” Hopkins said she was encouraged to see that World Vision advocates for indigenous seeds and organic farming in order to reduce cost and ensure participation of the poor in food production in the country. “Our aim is to empower farmers with necessary skills to be able to produce their own food even after the phase out of the NANAFS project,” said World Vision Food Security Manager Ratlala Montsi.
5. OPPAZ Develops Export and Local Organic Markets in Zambia
| ||The Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ), was founded in 1999 by farmers who were keen to promote and expand the opportunities of Organic Agriculture. The broader mandate of OPPAZ is to develop and actively promote organic farming in Zambia. As part of this mandate, OPPAZ is actively working on developing the local and export markets for organic products from Zambia. OPPAZ’s approach is rather proactive and innovative in this regard.|
OPPAZ’s efforts to develop the export market:
OPPAZ is exploring possibilities of increasing the exports of organic products by developing direct links with buyers and establishing effective distribution channels for member producers. With the financial and technical assistance of the EU-Export Development Programme II, Mr. Rudy Kortbech Olesen, an Export Marketing Consultant of OPPAZ who is currently based within the EU market place, was engaged for a period of 8 months from May to December 2006 to help develop further the exports of organic products from Zambia, and in particular to help the organic sector find alternative markets and to improve the sector’s overall performance through better market communication.
OPPAZ has placed more emphasis on developing the European markets, as the EU is OPPAZ’s major market for Zambian organic products. OPPAZ has also acted as a facilitator between buyers and producers mainly through participation at national and international organic trade fairs. Over the past 4 years, OPPAZ Staff and 7 of OPPAZ’s member producers have participated at Biofach in Germany. Through Biofach, OPPAZ has facilitated market linkages for buyers and producers to meet and transact. As a result of the Biofach events, 80% of all exports of organic products from OPPAZ members have been facilitated. For example, in 2004 a lot of buyer contacts were established and orders were made on 9 containers of honey (240 tons) valued at Euro 500.000 as well as 0.5 tons of Wild mushrooms valued at Euro 22.000.
OPPAZ’s efforts to develop the local market:
As a way of expanding market opportunities for organic producers in Zambia, OPPAZ is also focusing on developing the domestic (local) market. The local marketing initiative has developed from the realization that those organic producers that are not able to access the export market could use the local market to sell their products. The local market also provides a stepping stone towards entering the export market.
In the recent past, some OPPAZ members that were certified for the local market were selling their organic products through supermarkets and open Saturday markets (e.g. products such as fresh vegetables, spices and herbs, honey, peanut butter, essential and tree oils etc.). In 2006, 2 new initiatives of establishing Organic Shops (Market Outlets) have been started by OPPAZ member producers in Lusaka. “Foxy Organic Shop” is already open, while plans are underway to open the other shop “Go Organic Shop”. These shops will only sell certified organic products. The products must be ‘certified organic’ by any of the accredited certification bodies. Products that are in-conversion to organic will also be accepted and labeled as such. In addition, these shops will also aim to propagate awareness on organic farming and health benefits of organic products. Therefore, these shops will become ‘one stop shops’ for fresh and dry organic products, literature on organics, seeds, manure, bio-fertiliser etc. As a way of developing the local market, OPPAZ is also facilitating the development of national organic standards with other stakeholders in Zambia.
This article is a summary of a longer paper compiled by OPPAZ on “Development of the Local Market for Organic Products in Zambia”. The full document is freely available, alongside other resources, on the IFOAM Africa website at
For more information, please contact Mr Patrick Mungaila, OPPAZ Coordinator and IFOAM Contact Point in Zambia, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. High Cost of Certification Hindering Organic Food Exports in Uganda, According to Ministry of Agriculture Staff Member Ms Didah Kasangati
| ||The high cost of certifying organic products have denied farmers access to local and international markets. All organic farmers are required to certify their products to ensure that they conform to the set organic standards before they are supplied to domestic markets or exported. |
The Principal Agricultural Officer Crop Production and Marketing Department in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Ms Didah Kasangati, said certification costs in Uganda are generally high. The 22 certification bodies operating in the country, on average, charge between $4000 (about Shs 7.4 million) and $12,000 (about Shs 22.2 million) per annum. Kansangati said this at a workshop on Organic Agriculture Draft Policy held at Grand Imperial Hotel on October 26, 2006. She said that although group certification is being adopted to provide an avenue for better returns for smallholder organic farmers, the costs are still high. "A group of 1,600, cocoa farmers is certified at a cost of $ 12,000 per year and a group of coffee farmers pays $ 8,000. This still represents a high cost for these farmers who may have small fields," Kasangati said. Despite the high cost involved in certification, organic exports totaled around $6.2 million in 2004/2005, having risen from $3.7 million in 2003/2004. She said certification is mostly possible because the exporter was able to provide funds for certification.
Kasangati said that Ugocert, a local certification body, is working with Institute for Market Ecology and Cere2 to carry out inspection and local certification of organic agricultural products. Ugocert also collaborates with foreign certification bodies to certify Uganda's organic exports to the European Union, Japan and United States. Foreign certification standards such as the National Organic Policy of USA, Japanese Organic Agricultural Standards (JAS) of Japan are directly implemented in Uganda by commercial projects and foreign certifiers. She also cited low investment in Organic Agriculture as the other challenge facing the Ugandan Organic Agriculture sub sector.
Speaking at the same function, National Organic Agriculture Movement of Uganda Coordinator Moses Muwanga said problems currently experienced in Organic Agriculture would be addressed with Organic Agriculture Policy in place.
7. Two Papers on Organic Agriculture Presented at the Innovation Africa Symposium
| ||The Innovation Africa Symposium was held on 20-23 November 2006 in Kampala, Uganda. It was jointly organized by a multi-institutional partnership between the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), IFPRI-ISNAR (International Service for National Agricultural Research programme of the International Food Policy Research Institute), ILRI (International Livestock Research Institute), IIRR-Africa (International Institute for Rural Reconstruction), and PROLINNOVA (Promoting Local Innovation). The Symposium brought together about 140 people who are engaged in enhancing agricultural innovation systems to reflect on current thinking on innovation systems and to share experiences. The main sponsor was Rockefeller Foundation while further support was provided by the World Bank and the Ford Foundation. |
The concepts of innovation among the Symposium participants were fairly diverse, with obvious differences between those who regarded innovation as adoption of technologies introduced from Research (induced innovation) and those who regarded it as the outcome of social learning by many different actors. Nevertheless, two Organic Agriculture-related papers were presented during the Symposium. Alastair Taylor, the EPOPA Country Manager for Uganda, presented a paper on “Export promotion of organic products from Africa - Development through trade”, while Michael Hausser, from the Institute of Organic Farming (IfÖL, Austria) presented a paper on “Changing the rules of the game: institutional innovation and change processes in Organic Agriculture”.
The full presentations are available at http://www.ciat.cgiar.org/africa/eri/index.htm.
8. Organic Cocoa Production Increases Despite Pest Invasions in the Small State of São Tomé and Príncipe
| ||The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is an island nation located about 230 kilometers off of the northwestern coast of Gabon. It is the second smallest African country in terms of population, yet certified organic production is also taking place there.|
In 2000, IFAD commissioned an analysis of the country’s cocoa sector, which concluded that traditional farming methods could be adapted easily to organic production. Later that year, IFAD launched a three-year pilot project involving 500 farmers in 11 communities. The French company KAOKA agreed to supervise the project and to purchase as much certified organic cocoa as the farmers could produce. Farmers received technical advice and extension services to help them make the transition from producing medium-quality cocoa butter to high-quality dried cocoa. By the end of the pilot project, the farmers had produced 100 tons of certified organic cocoa that sold for 2.5 times the price of common cocoa. Smallholder families who participated in the program saw their yearly income increase from 25 per cent below the poverty line to 8 per cent above the poverty line, on average. A cost-benefit analysis of the project found that the internal rate of return (IRR) of the investment was between 12 and 17 per cent, depending on whether there was sufficient rainfall. Following this success, IFAD decided to scale up organic, aromatic cocoa farming to another 12 communities in Sao Tomé within its ongoing Participatory Smallholder Agriculture and Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme.
Presently, 20 farming communities on the island of Sao Tomé (one of the country’s two islands) cultivate organic cocoa exclusively for the export market. Their buyer is KAOKA with whom they have signed a five-year contract in 2005 through the Cooperative for Export and Market of Organic Cocoa (CECAB).
Some 1,100 producers, of whom 42 per cent are women, are involved in the production of organic cocoa there. So far they are happy with the results as their revenues have been rising. Their challenge, though, is to increase their modest production. Since the operation started, the Sao Tomé farmers have sold an average of 150 tons of dried beans per year to KAOKA. It is below the 400 tons expected by the French company. To rise to the challenge before the end of the contract, farmers need to sort out irrigation problems and plant more cocoa trees to increase their density per hectare. They also have to fight diseases attacking the trees and pests destroying the harvest, in a way that is compatible with organic standards. Some techniques have already been tested with positive results. Farmers are using lime sulphate to prevent diseases from developing. Insects known locally as robocintos, usually drawn to warm leaves, can be kept away by planting large trees to create enough shade to keep a cooler environment in the cocoa plantations. To get rid of an important rodent problem, the Sao Tomé farmers are now trying a traditional technique already proven in Latin America, called sugar bread: a mixture of sugar and baking yeast that is deadly when eaten by the rodents. The experiment in Sao Tomé has already had some positive results. Farmers are able to increase their production, while preserving the precious organic certification of their cocoa.
9. Untapped Potential of Organic and Natural Products in Madagascar
| ||According to the last survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Breeding and Fisheries, only 3% of Madagascar agricultural lands are chemically fertilized and more than 60% do not receive any fertilizer (see http://www.maep.gov.mg). There remains an enormous untapped potential. The country produces organically a variety of products such as essential oils, spices, aromatic plants and palm oil.|
So why isn’t Madagascan Organic Agriculture developing faster? We can mention several reasons, among which is the cost of certification. Other reasons include the absence of regulation and national policy on Organic Agriculture, the lack of market information, the lack of organization among the different organic actors, etc.
There is not yet a local market for certified organic products, which are essentially produced for export. However, an innovative company is currently breaking through the internal market with natural products, including homeopathic drugs, nutritional complements and natural cosmetics. These products are labeled as “natural” and display the company’s logo but are not certified organic. Other companies sell products such as jam or vinegar, although in similar conditions. A first solution that could be appropriate would be to set up a smallholder certification system, given the fact that the average size of a Madagascan farm is 0.87 ha.
For more information, please contact Rajaonarison Andrianjaka Hanitriniala at email@example.com.
10. The Organic Agriculture Landscape in Senegal
| ||Agriculture plays an essential role in Senegal’s socio-economic life. The agricultural population amounts 6.990.000 inhabitants – 75% of the country’s population. For almost 2 decades, the ecological approach has increasingly become recognized by farmers as a sustainable solution for agricultural development and even for development in its broader sense. This explains that a number of NGOs and farmer organizations have adopted organic or agro-ecological agriculture.|
The context is generally favorable to the development of Organic Agriculture. Indeed, like in most other African countries, the withdrawal of the state has left the farmers alone with their destiny. In all agricultural policies in Senegal, very little attention was given to horticulture. In this sector, the absence of assistance and interventionism developed among farmers the habit of counting on their own resources and of taking initiatives. Therefore, when liberalism and state withdrawal were decided as an economic option for development, farmers were already prepared for it, which explains that the transition has been relatively easy.
The Organic Agriculture landscape in Senegal is composed of pioneer or innovating producers, often supported by NGOs (Agrecol Afrique, Enda Pronat, PAN Afrique, ASPAB, Rodale International) working on the promotion of Organic Agriculture. It is also made of consumers who are sensitive to health issues, ecology, taste or quality, supported as well by NGOs working in the field of sustainable agriculture.
For more information, please contact Souleymane Bassoum from Agrecol Afrique at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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