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Shifting to organic farming good for Africa’s agric market – UNCTAD

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Expanding Africa’s shift towards organic farming will be good for the continent’s nutritional needs, good for the environment, good for farmers’ incomes, and good for African markets and employment, a top UN official said at the 2nd African Organic Conference which opened May 2, 2012 in Zambia.

The 2nd African Organic Conference, which runs from May 2 to 4, has the theme “Mainstreaming organic agriculture into the African development agenda.”

Mr Petko Draganov, Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) told the opening session of the conference that “Organic agriculture can offer an impressive array of food security, economic, environmental, and health benefits for developing countries, including in Africa.”

According to Mr. Draganov, the UNCTAD strongly supports the growing use of organic farming practices on the continent and Africa already has more certified organic farms than any other continent.

“The conference emphasized the importance of food security, sustainable agriculture, and a transition towards a ‘green’ economy,” Mr. Draganov said.

“Clearly the subject of this meeting – organic agriculture – can have an important role in achieving sustainable and inclusive development,” he added.

The three-day Lusaka meeting is jointly organized by UNCTAD, the African Union, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ) and Grow Organic Africa.

The conference has among its objectives the development of an African Organic Action Plan intended to spur expansion of the organic farming sector, streamline certification and “organic equivalency” systems that allow more vigorous trade in organic goods, and add to the continent’s markets for organic produce.

By Ekow Quandzie

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