Tag Archive: organic principles

Oct 16

Saudi Organic Farming Association: A Country Committed to Sustainable Food Production

On request of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture, GIZ started to support the development of the Kingdom’s organic agriculture sector in April 2005. The overall mission of the Organic Farming Project was to establish a functioning and sustainable organic agriculture sector in Saudi Arabia. Within a mere 7 years, essential policy and support functions have been set in place and the project together with its partners of the Ministry’s Department of Organic Agriculture (DOA) and the Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA) has turned organic agriculture in the KSA into a remarkable example for organic sector development.

Consumer demand for healthy and high quality foods is growing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. At the same time, domestic organic markets are emerging. Organic agriculture offers substantial opportunities for small farmers in the Kingdom since the shift from severe competition at local conventional markets to an organic niche market offers attractive price premiums in a growing market environment. However, the benefits of organic agriculture are not confined to business opportunities. In addition to market considerations, the Kingdom acknowledges organic as environmentally friendly and emphasizes the potential to protect the Kingdom’s valuable resources by strengthening soil fertility, biodiversity and other ecosystem services.

Beyond national interests, Saudi Arabia has taken up an important role in promoting organic throughout the entire Arabic peninsular. In 2011 the Kingdom has acknowledged the advocating role of IFOAM together with its standard equivalence initiatives and joined IFOAMs Family of Standards. The first Saudi Organic Regulation and Standards are currently under revision in order to fully comply with the Common Objectives and Requirements of Organic Standards (COROS) in the near future. The formation of an IFOAM Middle East Group is on the way; with Dr. Saad Khalil (Ministry of Agriculture Organic Farming Supervisor and Secretary General of SOFA) Saudi Arabia has engaged in both a facilitating and mediating role to strengthen organic in the Middle East, ease equivalence and support regional trade of organic products.

A first organic agricultural policy concept has been introduced in October 2012, depicting adequate policy support measures for strengthening the Kingdom’s organic sector  in a long-term perspective. First reactions by the Saudi government have been very positive and a translation of the policy into an operational organic action plan can be expected in 2013. The policy combines market oriented and resource oriented goals to an intermediate strategy reflecting both productivity  and resource objectives. Strengthening consumers’ awareness via a national PR campaign in 2013 is among priorities as well as supporting and strengthening basic governmental functions such as  Organic Research and Extension.

Organic agriculture research in dry climatic environments such as Saudi Arabia offers great future opportunities to deliver substantial solutions for smallholders in the Kingdom and elsewhere. In the light of extreme climates, Organic Research & Extension is among key issues which can make a difference for organic producers to help shape global sustainable organic systems development in future. Saudi Arabia has taken up this challenge and is about to develop and strengthen its Organic Agriculture Research Sector together with the GIZ in close collaboration with FiBL Switzerland. There is a lot to do, yet at the same time a lot of confidence and motivation to provide solutions to producers in arid climates in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Dr. Marco Hartmann
Organic Farming Project
Team Leader/Project Director
www.saudi-organic.org.sa

Dr. Saad Khalil
Organic Farming Supervisor, Ministry of Agriculture
Secretary General, Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA)
www.sofa.org.sa

 

 

Sep 03

Helvetas Nepal: Nepali Organic Coffee – Promotion, Potential and Prospect

A cup of fair-trade organic coffee a day changes producer’s lives!

Organic agriculture practices are part of agriculture systems in Nepal from time immemorial. Coffee, an exotic crop, however, quite suitable to soil and climate of Nepal has been able to generate curiosity, enthusiasm and sustainable income for the smallholders within a decade. Efforts and initiatives of the Coffee Promotion Program (CoPP) of HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Nepal, on capacity building of the smallholders on production, processing, marketing and institutional development has made organic coffee a sustainable income generating crop. Moreover, for over a decade ago it would be strange talking about promoting organic coffee in the mainstream agricultural policy deliberations and forum. Nevertheless, CoPP has been able to mainstreaming coffee at the policy level having its recognition as a high value export potential crop.

CoPP now actively supports smallholders through their cooperatives and associations producing high quality specialty organic coffee (in an altitude range of 800 to 1600 m.) in the mid hills  of central and western Nepal. Coffee growing is quite compatible with the existing agricultural system while enhancing food security from the additional income derived from certified organic coffee sales. “Life was difficult particularly to cope with the ever increasing family expenses before the good income from sale of coffee” says Sabitri Jamakatel from Thula Durlung – a smallholder in remote village south of Kathmandu valley.

Specialty organic coffee is now sold in local urban markets and is exported to fair trade markets abroad. Now more and more farmers are associated in the organic coffee cooperatives because of increasing demand at domestic and international level. With hard working farmers in the background, Nepal’s organic coffee has a bright future for the benefit of both producers and the country itself; however, challenges still lie to expand this economic opportunity in other potential districts.

HELVETAS Nepal
www.helvetasnepal.org.np

 

May 31

Soil Association: Better Together!

Helen BrowningI was delighted to be asked to contribute to IFOAM’s 40th anniversary blog, as the Soil Association has been an enthusiastic member and supporter of IFOAM for many years. At the heart of the organic philosophy is a recognition that all things are linked parts of a larger whole, but we must be mindful of this, and act to make sure that we keep our links healthy – we can achieve very little acting alone. Our work with IFOAM allows us to share and learn from many other groups, and we ignore this knowledge at our own peril.

And this idea of working with others is absolutely crucial to the success of Rio+20 if we are to develop workable solutions to the global threats of climate change and future resource constraints. Over the last 65 years The Soil Association has endeavored to bring the organic principles of care, ecology, fairness and health, into a world seemingly determined to ignore these values. As we know, there is only one planet with finite resources to provide for the needs of our growing world population, and we must find ways of meeting our needs while not compromising the prospects of future generations.

For us, that starts with the soil, that fragile vital layer of living material which sustains and recycles all life. Building healthy soil is the most reliable way to ensure we produce enough good food for everyone, while minimizing non-renewable inputs and increasing resilience in the face of climate change and a resource-constrained future.

But the future is about people too. We will always campaign for human scale activity, meaningful and varied employment, family farms and businesses, grassroots and community enterprise, and business models that allow for an ethical focus.

We need solutions that balance the needs of all: society, consumers, business, the natural environment and farm animals, both in the UK and globally. We work with those businesses and community initiatives which are putting organic principles into practice. We help policy makers both with pragmatic next steps and with adjusting the economic and legal framework to ensure that the right incentives are in place to encourage best practice to become the norm, not the exception.

As we move towards an uncertain future we need innovation in our farming practice, and innovation in our economic structures, and we need to bring bring all perspectives around the table, to find the best ways of meeting our aspirations to develop healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and production systems across the globe. The Soil Association is working towards these goals in the UK, and we urge everyone across the world to get involved with the goal of making sustainable livelihoods and development the goal of Rio+20.

Helen Browning
Chief Executive
Soil Association
www.soilassociation.org