Zambia is to hosts Organic Conference in Lusaka

By Nawa Mutumweno – Zambia is to host the second African Organic Conference from May 2 – 4, 2012 in Lusaka.

Being held under the theme; ‘Mainstreaming Organic Agriculture in the African Development Agenda’, the event is tailored to represent the desires of the continental organic fraternity and reflects the current declaration of the African Union and the United Nations agencies responsible for trade and environmental programmes.

The overall objective is to report and further promote mainstreaming of organic agriculture in African government policies, in African intergovernmental organizations as well as among development partners.

“In this regard, the conference will provide evidence-based information on the benefits of organic agriculture and their contributions to the challenges and needs  in Africa; present successful small-scale organic agriculture projects and case studies in seed production, food security and climate resilience and group organic certification as boosters for local and external trade on organic commodities; present successful organic agriculture projects and case studies in marketing and trade of organic products; highlight successful initiatives  and case studies in institutional development; and explore various systems of organic certification and how they can be reformed to boost local and external marketing and trade,” an information factsheet on the conference says.

The conference, which will encompass a forum for discussions and exchange of information, knowledge and experiences, will run back to back with side events for which table top exhibitions and field visits will be made by interested stakeholders.

It will target all stakeholders involved in operations which contribute to sustainable agriculture, social and economic development in Africa. The conference will bring together all African and international stakeholders and development partners involved in agriculture, environment, trade and tourism sectors.

Keynote speakers at the event will include former Republican President Kenneth Kaunda, who is passionate about organic agriculture, former Nigerian Preesident, Mr. Abdulsalami Abubakar, the Chairperson of the African Union, Her Excellency, Ms. Tumusile Rhoda Peace, President of the International Federation of  Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Andre Leu and a Nobel peace laureate, Ms. Vandana Shiva from India.

The African Union (AU), Norwegian Association of Organic Producers and Consumers (Oikos), Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC), Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC), Organic Standards for East Africa (OSEA) Project, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Hivos, IICD, among others are supporting the conference.

The interest stems from empirical evidence available with renowned research and private commercial operators that organic agriculture holds the key to food security, food sovereignty, climate change resilience and increased income earnings among smallholder farmers. This qualifies organic agriculture as a pathway to the direct and indirect attainment of all the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Organic Producers & Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ) in collaboration with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) will convene the conference under authority of the African national organic agriculture movements present at the inaugural 2009 African Organic Conference held in Kampala, Uganda.

Grolink AB of Sweden will provide technical backstopping for the conference. Co-organisers include the Zambia Agribusiness Technical Advice Centre (ZATAC) SNV (Netherland Organisation), Conservation Farming Unit(CFU) of the Zambia National Farmers’ Union (ZNFU) and the Agri-Business Forum (ABF)/East and Southern Africa Agribusiness Network (ESAANet).