Source: African Organic Conference
“Organic agriculture is extremely important in human life”, says Zambia's First Republican President Kenneth Kaunda, one of the prominent speakers at the 2nd African Organic Conference in Lusaka, Zambia. The conference mainstreaming organic agriculture on the African development agenda will take place in Lusaka, Zambia, from 2 to 4 May 2012 and is expected to attract some 300 participants from more than 40 countries and four continents.
Organic agriculture in Africa is growing rapidly. More than 1 million hectares of arable land and at least 530,000 farmers are certified according to organic standards in Africa. Uganda and Ethiopia have each more than 100,000 certified organic farms and Tanzania has some 85,000. Most of the certified organic production is sold for exports, but there are good organic markets in South Africa and Egypt and emerging markets in countries such as Senegal and Kenya. Many more farmers, from Morocco to Madagascar, from Cairo to Cape Town, practice organic farming.
From being ignored or even oppressed by the government, organic farming is increasingly recognised for its contribution to food security, poverty alleviation and the environment. The President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, told delegates at COP 17 in Durban in December: “Several studies show that the use of organic methods of farming by small producers in developing countries can lead to an increase in crop yields and thus enhance food security among the poor. Sustainable crop and livestock systems provide ecosystem services that restore productivity, conserve soil, water and biodiversity, take away carbon, regulate climate and provide landscape and cultural values.” The Executive Council of the African Union has recently adopted a decision on organic farming. The decision calls for the establishment of an African organic farming platform based on available best practices.
The conference in Lusaka provides an opportunity to showcase the contribution that organic agriculture already makes and discuss how it can be scaled up to meet the combined needs of more food production, maintaining the environment and increasing income. “It makes us proud that Zambia is becoming a pioneer in climate-smart agriculture. Our expectations are that the conference will be a practical learning and implementation experience,” said Munshimbwe Chitalu, OPPAZ chief executive officer. Topics addressed range from organic policies and action plans and private sector initiatives to research and options for cooperation on organic standards in Africa. Research findings and studies of best practices form a major part of the conference. The full programme is available here.
The conference is organised by the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ) in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Zambia, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and Grow Organic Africa under the auspices of IFOAM and the African Union. More information on the conference is available here: www.africanorganicconference.com.