Organics in the News

Organic agriculture contributes to Millennium Development Goals in Africa
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) to establish Africa Organic Service Centre in Dakar, Senegal

Posted September 15, 2005: Recognizing the booming growth and potential of organic agriculture for contributing to the Millennium Development Goals in Africa, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has established an Africa Organic Service Centre (AOSC) in Dakar, Senegal. Mr. Chido Makunike, a recognized leader in the African environmental and organic initiatives hailing from Zimbabwe, has been selected as the IFOAM AOSC’s Coordinator.

Known for excellence in journalism by many southern African readers, Mr. Makunike is strongly supported by the organic movements in Zambia and Zimbabwe. Rene Fischer, Director of the Zimbabwe Organic Producers’ and Processors’ Association emphasized, “Chido’s passion for the organic movement combined with his highly-tuned skills for critical analysis will serve the African organic industry well.” The IFOAM AOSC was established in 2004 and was initially located in Kampala, Uganda.

In close cooperation with the 66 IFOAM member organizations in 22 African countries and the IFOAM AOSC advisory committee, Mr. Makunike will initiate strategic efforts to facilitate growth and development of the African organic sector. Mr. Makunike notes, “The greatest challenge of the IFOAM AOSC is to connect and bring together the diversity of the organic agricultural sector in Africa into a coherent and unified continent-wide movement.”

The initial scope of the IFOAM AOSC’s activities will focus on the expansion of communications to IFOAM members and likeminded organizations, enhancing the visibility of organic agriculture in Africa and the promotion of continent specific development initiatives such as the development of regional organic standards, facilitation of local and export markets, and the increased recognition of the role organic agriculture plays in enhancing food security, to name a few. “Significantly, the IFOAM AOSC has the potential to dramatically elevate the importance of organic agriculture in Africa. Through networking with national movements, governments and intergovernmental agencies, the benefits of organic farming will become unmistakably clear, and it is my hope that all of the stakeholders, from farmers to government officials, will coalesce to support organic agriculture and a sustainable solution for African people,” asserts El Hadji Hamath Hane, IFOAM World Board member from Senegal.

Over 75% of Africa’s workforce is employed in agriculture. Organic farming contributes to the Millennium Development Goals of improved health and food security, environmental conservation and economic development. The benefits of organic farming for Africa are numerous, from increasing yields and conserving water in semi-arid areas and combating desertification, to debt reduction of farmers, strengthening of social systems and maximization of environmental services. Gerald A. Herrmann, IFOAM Executive Director explains, “The ecological, social and economic benefits of organic agriculture for the people of Africa are many. We have invested in the IFOAM AOSC to realize this potential. We hope that governments and intergovernmental agencies, particularly the United Nations, will also recognize organic agriculture’s potential for Africa and make the necessary investment. Organic agriculture is an agricultural system that can make positive and permanent changes on a human scale, utilizing resources effectively.”

More details about the Africa Organic Service Centre can be found on IFOAM’s website http://www.ifoam.org/about_ifoam/around_world/africa.html.