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Niels Halberg

ORGANIC AGRICULTURE FOR IMPROVEDFOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA: RECOMMENDATIONS TO FUTURE DEVELOPMENT. Results and outcomes of a workshop about organic farming development

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportReport

  • Research Centre for Organic Farming
  • Heard Health and Produktion Management
  • Department of Animal Health and Bioscience

Organic farming offers a way to increase productivity, and improve food security and livelihood for African smallholder farmers, given that agro-ecological methods are properly and appropriately implemented, and that trade, consumption patterns and policies enable a fair development of food systems. This was concluded in an UNEP-UNCTAD CBTF report from 2008 exploring the potentials of organic farming in Africa.

In this report, it was furthermore concluded that organic and near-organic agricultural methods and technologies are ideally suited for many poor, marginalized smallholder farmers in Africa, that organic farming builds on and stimulates the formation of human, social, financial, natural and physical capital, and that the recent rise in food and fuel prices highlight the importance of making agricultural production less energy and external input dependent. Since organic farming is not directly and specifically supported by agricultural policy in most African countries, and sometimes actively hindered, an effort to establish and support an enabling policy environment must be done.

At a one-day workshop on the 22nd May 2009 in Kampala in relation to the First African organic conference, the findings of this report were discussed and the experience among the approx. 150 participants from throughout Africa strongly supported the conclusions. The following points were highlighted:

- Organic farming should be used as a strategy for community development and a sustainable food system for improved family food security.

- Organic farming and management is very knowledge intensive, and education as well as access to knowledge is crucial. Many small-scale farmers are illiterate. Capacity building as a social process which support the local communities and create valuable networks.

- Gender issues must be addressed, for many reasons, in order to support future development of organic farming. At the same time, it was highlighted that men should be targeted as heads of families to support the development of the whole family.

- We need to go beyond farming systems and talk about localisation of food systems, including the strengthening of the local and social capital. Strengthening of whole communities should be supported.

- Organic farming helps the farmers and citizens of a country against land degradation and to ensure that the land is fertile for the next generations.

- There are huge numbers of experiences from all over Africa, which should be used, and the differences between different ecological zones / biomers should clearly be considered.

- Policy reforms are needed. A major reason why organic farming is not more widespread is because of policies, e.g. heavy subsidies on fertilizer and chemicals, lack of education, and the fact that agro-ecological methods are more labour intensive. The development of organic farming cannot be left to the private sector. Furthermore, there are links between agriculture, environment and food production with regard to politics, which should be further explored and linked together.

- Certification systems and internal procedures for control, inspection and development should be further developed. Farmers should be owners of their own certification, and certification at a farm or in a community should not be restricted to one crop, but the whole farm. Certification should be given when certain whole-farm agro-ecological methods are in use.

- Diversified production on farm-level increases the food-security for the family and leave the farmer less vulnerable for market prices at a certain product.

- The AGRA initiative was mentioned several times and is a major threat for Africa. It has severe consequences for Africa and creates dependency. The use of GMO and chemicals is heavily subsidised, and the promotors use the same rhetoric talking about sustainability.

- Value adding in Africa is needed. This includes all levels from on-farm processing and joint access to local markets as well as a more fair development of the conditions for international trade, e.g. tariff barriers.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherAarhus Universitet, Det Jordbrugsvidenskabelige Fakultet
Number of pages34
ISBN (Print)87‐91949‐43‐2
ISBN (Electronic)87‐91949‐43‐2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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