Organic Agriculture Contributes to Food Security and Rural Development in Africa
Thiès, Senegal, June 28th 2006
— The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) today presented diverse and effective examples of how Organic Agriculture contributes to Food Security and Rural Development in Africa. African press, leaders and representatives from NGOs, the FAO, the World Bank and national dignitaries witnessed the potential of Organic Agriculture.
During a half day event, including a tour of an organic farm, representatives from Egyptian, Ugandan and Senegalese organic movements showed how Organic Agriculture is a means to further endogenous development for rural communities on a local level.
Dr. Zakaria El Haddad told the success story of SEKEM, an Egypt-based initiative that was founded in 1977 by Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, and was presented with the Right Livelihood Award in 2003 for the establishment of "a business model for the 21st century in which commercial success is integrated with and promotes the social and cultural development of society through the 'economics of love'". SEKEM has created the blueprint for the healthy corporation of the 21st century. Taking its name from the hieroglyphic transcription meaning "vitality of the sun", SEKEM was the first entity to develop biodynamic farming methods in Egypt. SEKEM produces a large variety of consumer products of a high quality, both for local use and for export. SEKEM has an all-encompassing and holistic vision that aims to create self-sustaining economic, social and cultural development.
Mr. John Bosco Mugisha presented the Export Promotion of Organic Products from Africa (EPOPA) project, which began in 1994 as a program of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). EPOPA aims to give African smallholder farmers a better livelihood through the development of local and international organic markets. The increase in agricultural production benefits rural communities, and thus the farmers. More than 30000 smallholder farmers have benefited from a premium price for their organic crop. The agricultural sector, particularly in Tanzania and Uganda, are constantly exposed to innovative and environmentally sound organic farming techniques, leading to abundant local spin off developments.
The host of the event, Mr. Souleymane Bassoum, explained how the Agrecol project in Senegal connects consumers and producers around the most basis need: daily food. By signing an agreement, producers agree to produce according to the Principles of Organic Agriculture. Consumers know where they can buy safe and traditional food. Through local markets and festivals both groups meet each other to celebrate their common goal - sound production systems for healthy food.? The farm tour, which included an organic lunch with local, traditional food, provided real life examples of the project in practice.
IFOAM’s President, Gerald A. Herrmann, appreciated the presentation of the exemplary practices of Organic Agriculture in Africa. He noted “Although the examples are all different, they share the common thread that optimizes the use of local conditions, while refraining from external inputs and demonstrating successful community-based development. Because Organic Agriculture is based upon local knowledge, both uses and advances diversity and involves little risk, it represents an ideal means for rural development, and directly contributes to food security.”
IFOAM organized the event in Thiès in response to the Africa Fertilizer Summit, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria from June 9 – 13. As opposed to reliance upon external inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, the presentations showed that Organic Agriculture puts farmers at the center of the farming strategy, restoring the decision-making role to rural communities, guaranteeing the local control of resources and encouraging active participation in a value added food chain.
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IFOAM is the international umbrella organization of Organic Agriculture movements worldwide.
IFOAM’s mission is leading uniting and assisting the organic movement in its full diversity.
Our goal is the worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially and economically sound systems taht are based on the Principles of Organic Agriculture.
IFOAM Press Release, Responsible: Angela B. Caudle, Contact: Neil Sorensen
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