International year of farming launched
Published On December 24, 2013 » 2136 Views» By Times of Zambia » Business, Columns
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•THE organisation and the organic movement are engaged in training and assisting smallholders and family farmers to improve their yield through ecological intensification instead of expensive external inputs.

•THE organisation and the organic movement are engaged in training and assisting smallholders and family farmers to improve their yield through ecological intensification instead of expensive external inputs.

By NAWA MUTUMWENO -

ORGANIC farming is the way forward for the future of family farming, the International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) said in a Press release issued on November 22.

With the launch of the United Nations International Year of Family Farming 2014, IFOAM is calling for concerted actions to support and strengthen family farming.

Smallholder farmers grow 70 per cent of the world’s food but 50 per cent of the world’s hungry are small farmers.

“Climate change induced weather extremities such as droughts, floods, destructive rains and winds threaten their farms and livelihoods. Organic agriculture and other agro-ecological models provide
science-based solutions to these challenges and can bring prosperity to family and small farmers,” the statement reads in part.

IFOAM welcomes the launch of the IYFF, conscious of the essential role that families and small farmers play in food production, sustaining rural economies and the stewardship of biodiversity. Attention also needs to be focused on the poverty-stricken circumstances under which many live and suffer.

Despite the introduction of conventional agriculture in Africa, food production per person is 10 per cent lower now, than in the 1960s.

On the other hand, a recent study conducted by economists, agronomists, and international development experts commissioned by the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences show that ‘ modern non-certified organic farming is a potentially sustainable approach to agricultural development in areas with low yields due to poor access to inputs or low yield potential because it involves lower economic risk than comparative interventions based on purchased inputs and may increase farm level resilience against climatic fluctuations.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) also reports on results from 114 organic agriculture projects in Africa covering two
million hectares and about two million farmers showing a 116 per cent higher average crop yield on average for all African projects and 128 per cent higher for the projects in East Africa.
The UN agencies concluded that ‘organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems, and that it is more likely to be sustainable in the long
term.

With organic farming techniques in soil, water and biodiversity conservation and integrated and sustainable farm management, small farmers can be productive, achieve family food security and
improve incomes.

On the occasion of the IYFF 2014 launch, Andre Leu, IFOAM President calls for improved local, national and international policies to promote sustainable organic family and smallholder systems and
businesses and for investments in infrastructure, research and technical assistance for supporting them.

Authorities, donor agencies and international organisations should accelerate their efforts in promoting organic agriculture as a system to empower family and smallholder producers and help them become more resilient, productive and profitable.
IFOAM is a member of the IYFF2014 Co-ordination Committee and dedicates a lot of efforts to supporting family farmers.

The organisation and the organic movement are engaged in training and assisting smallholders and family farmers to improve their yield through ecological intensification instead of expensive external inputs.

Moreover, IFOAM develops tools such as group certification schemes that fit with smallholder needs, in particular in developing countries, to link to both international and domestic markets.

Thanks to these tools, hundreds of thousands of family farms in India, Uganda, Mexico, Tanzania and Ethiopia have shifted to organic farming and improved their livelihoods.
“Organic farming is not farming by neglect. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science and the adoption of good practice organic systems is delivering significant increases in yields and prosperity to smallholder farmers,” Andre Leu concludes.

In Zambia, the organic movement is ‘captained’ by the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ), an apex member-based business support organisation which ‘unites, leads and
coordinates producers, processors, traders, trainers and other stakeholders towards the development of organic agriculture in the country’.
“OPPAZ envisions the attainment of a vibrant and sustainable Zambian organic sub-sector for generation of income, creation of wealth and improvement of the quality of life through sustainable utilisation of the environment and its natural resources in a gender-balanced
setting,” its vision states

Its product support range includes: Arable Crops (fruits, vegetables, oil seeds, cereals, legumes, roots and tubers); livestock (dairy, beef and poultry); natural products (wild fruits, mushroom, bee products); fresh products (fruits and vegetables); and herbs, spices and medicinal plants.

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