Business News of Friday, 15 November 2019
Speakers at a West African Organic Agriculture Conference have called on African countries to mainstream organic agricultural practices into their national policies.
They said prioritising organic agriculture would help promote sustainable agricultural practices to address poor soil fertility, boost food security and ensure food safety on the continent.
They made the call at the fifth West African Organic Agriculture Conference which opened in Accra yesterday.
The four-day event is on the theme: “Organic agriculture: Life for all”.
Participants include players in the organic agriculture value chain in Africa, such as farmer-based groups, processors, investors, entrepreneurs, researchers and agro-chemical sellers.
It is being organised by Ecological Organic Agriculture Platform Ghana (EOAP-G ), a specialised unit at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), and sponsored by the German Development Cooperation (GIZ).
Among issues being discussed are ways to explore the potential of organic agriculture in the transformation of national and regional economies and enhancement of livelihoods of farmers and practitioners in the organic farming value chain.
The speakers included a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Sagre Bambangi; the Head of Programmes and Focal Agriculture Person of the GIZ, Dr Elke Stumps, and the President of the EOAP-G, Dr De Fenz Sodza Schandorf.
According to them, organic farming wielded the potential to address the impact of climate change on agriculture and reduce the use of chemicals which were harmful to the health of farmers and consumers.
In an address read on his behalf, Dr Bambangi said the negative effect of climate change affected food production and the development of African nations.
Embracing organic farming, he said, would, therefore, help mitigate the negative impact of climate variability and change, ensure food safety, address low soil fertility and the over-reliance on chemical inputs.
The minister said Ghana was an agrarian economy and the government had recognised that promoting sustainable ecological organic agriculture would fast-track the attainment of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda.
He said initiatives such as Planting for Food and Jobs, Rearing for Food and Jobs, Planting for Export and Rural Development and Greenhouse Villages for Development incorporated the principles and practices of ecological organic agriculture in their implementation.
“All these demonstrate Ghana’s efforts at mainstreaming ecological organic agriculture into national plans and programmes, as enjoined by the African Union,” Dr Bambangi added.
For her part, Dr Stumps said the commitment of African countries to embrace organic agriculture would allow them access to European markets, where there was a high demand for certified quality organic farm produce.
In line with such an objective, she said, the GIZ was working with MoFA to improve production, processing and marketing along the organic agriculture value chain to increase access to European markets.
Dr Stumps also said efforts were being made to provide certification for 1,000 hectares of citrus farms in the Central Region for export to European markets, a development which she said would create jobs along the value chain.
On efforts to mainstream ecological organic agriculture into national policies, Dr Schandorf expressed the hope that the workshop would help realise that objective.