By Nawa Mutumweno – The recently-held 2nd African Organic Conference in Lusaka observed that organic agriculture plays a key role in sustainable development, food security, poverty reduction, environmental security, climate change adaptation, human health, preservation of indigenous knowledge, plant varieties and animal breeds as well as socio-cultural development.
The 300 participants from over 40 countries shared international research results confirming that the adoption of organic agriculture practices significantly increases yields in Africa. Based on locally available renewable resources instead of purchased chemical inputs (over 90 percent of which are imported in sub-Saharan Africa), organic producers are less vulnerable to international input price volatility.
In a document called The Lusaka Declaration issued at the end of the forum, the participants stress that “organic agriculture is climate-smart agriculture, as it produces lower emissions and also provides much greater resilience in times of climate extremes such as drought and heavy rains.”
On the sidelines of the conference, the African Organic Network (AfroNet) – the umbrella organization uniting and representing African organic stakeholders – was institutionalized.
The conference called for the implementation of the African Union Heads of State and Government Decision on Organic Farming (Doc. EX.CL/631 XVIII). The Summit decision requested that the African Union Commission (AUC) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency (NPCA) to initiate and provide guidance for an AU-led coalition of international partners on the establishment of an African organic farming platform based on available best practices; and to provide guidance in support of the development of sustainable organic farming systems.
The AU has been called upon to mainstream organic agriculture into all areas of its work, including the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and to take the lead in the implementation of the African Organic Action Plan(and its associated Pillars), in close collaboration with Afro Net and other partners.
The six pillars of the African Organic Action Plan are:-
“We call upon all African stakeholders and development partners to support the implementation of the African Organic Action Plan from technical, financial and institutional perspectives. These partners include but are not limited to the European Union, UNCTAD, FAO, IFAD, UNEP, ITC, World Bank, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM),Grow Organic Agriculture, the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Sida, Hivos, NORAD, Swiss Development Cooperation and the Government of Austria,” the Declaration reads in part.
The Regional Economic Communities (RECs) should mainstream organic agriculture into existing regional agricultural frameworks and initiatives including the Regional Compacts, Research for Development, Advocacy, Outreach and Communication, Media, Publications, Capacity Building, Technical Cooperation and Intergovernmental meeting.
The European Union and other actors of the global trade partners were requested to take all possible steps to facilitate the participation of Africa in global organic markets. This includes a request to recognize as equivalent the East African Organic Products Standards (EAOPS), which was developed through a consultative regional public-private partnership and adopted as the official East African Community organic standard in 2007.
The conference welcomed the recent equivalency agreements on organic trade between the EU, the United States and Canada, further requesting that these equivalency agreements include full recognition of organic import systems, so that approval as organic in one market, leads to access to all three.
Ecological Organic Agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Ecological Organic Agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and good quality of life for all involved.
The conference was held in Lusaka, Zambia from May 2 – 4, 2012 under the theme: “Mainstreaming Organic Agriculture in the African Development Agenda.’’ Its objective was to showcase organic agriculture successes and its contribution to food security on the continent. For more information – www.africanorganicconference.com.
It was organized by the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ), the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Grow Organic Africa, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) with support from COMESA, Hivos and Oikos, among others. Technical assistance was provided by Grolink AB of Sweden and the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) of the Netherlands.