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Manjo Smith
Chairperson
Namibian Organic Association
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4.05.2012
NOA attends African Organic Conference, Zambia

Six members of the Namibian Organic Association attended and made presentations at the 2nd African organic Conference, held in Zambia from 2 – 4 May 2012. The purpose of the Conference was to highlight the importance of organic agriculture in Africa and to set an agenda whereby organic agriculture takes centre stage and gets its rightful recognition as a tool for inclusive and sustainable development on the continent.

The theme of this year’s Conference was “Mainstreaming Organic agriculture in the African Development Agenda”. It focused on the economical, social and environmental contribution that organic practice makes toward the development and sustainability of food production and food security on the African continent.

Honourable Emmanual T. Chenda, MP< Minister of agriculture and livestock in Zambia said in his address, “Organic agriculture is one of the best practices in ensuring environmental sustainability. It sustains the fertility of soils, ecosystems and sustains the health of people. It relies locally adapted, improved ecological processes and cycles, and natural biodiversity rather than the use of synthetic inputs and genetically modified materials. It is therefore important that our farmers are encouraged to practice organic farming. I have no doubt that organic agriculture has the potential to contribute to food security, increased incomes and generation of employment for our people.”

Mr Petko Draganov, Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD aid, “UNCTAD research has shown that worldwide – and in Africa – organic farmers generally earn better incomes. Revenues are higher because of rapidly growing markets, as well as frequent price and quality premiums. For most African organic products, there is not enough supply to meet the demand.”

This is indeed good news for the organic community in Africa. He went on to say, “(The) combination of higher net incomes and varied nutritious food means that organic agriculture is good for food security. It is also more likely to be sustainable in the long term because the shift to organic farming serves to build human, social, natural, financial and physical capital in farming communities”. Major role players in the organic movement in Africa were present and included the African Union, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Dr Kenneth Kaunda, first President of the Republic of Zambia serves as the patron of the organic movement in Zambia and brings strong leadership to the organic movement in Zambia and the rest of the regions at a time when organic production takes centre stage in the agricultural sectors.

Namibians who addressed the Conference were:
  • Mrs Manjo Smith who delivered a paper on Organic agriculture as a strategy for biodiversity and adaptation and mitigation to climate change. Smith is the first Namibian elected to the World Board of trhe IFOAM in 2011 and is Chairperson of the Namibian Organic Association,
  • Wiebke Volkmann from the Namibian Centre for Holistic management did two presentations; “Principles and practices of holistic management and how these can and do support organic production in Namibia” and “Community based rangeland and livestock management as a multiple-benefit strategy for improving meat production with low external inputs”, and
  • Judith Isele, Vice Chair of the Namibian Organic Association, who gave a  presentation on “Facing the challenges of organic livestock production in Namibia with the help of holistic management”.
Other Namibians who attended were Edith Kalka, Christiane Hilbert and Suzette Janse van Vuuren.

During his opening address, Draganov said, “We should all work together to increase awareness about organic agriculture and develop supportive policies and programmes to help it spread.”

A vital outcome of this conference is the establishment of the Southern African Network for Organic Development (SANOD), made up of the organic sectors from the Southern African countries for the purpose of working together at a regional level with the outcome of interacting at CAADP (The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme) level. SANOD’s objective “is to lead and support the organic agriculture movement in the region, in order to promote trade, harmonising organic production standards, to address challenges and  opportunities of mutual concern, and to facilitate organic production research”.

Manjo Smith of the Namibian Organic Association was elected as Chairperson. The rest of the steering committee are: Stanley Chidaya, Malawi organic Growers Association (Vice-Chair), Munshimbwe Chitalu, organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (Secretary); Heinrich Schultz South African Organic Sector Organisation (Treasurer), Fortunate Nyakanda, Zimbabwe Organic Producers and promoters Association (Additional Member).

300 delegates from 35 countries around the world attended the conference. For more information about the 2nd African Organic Conference in Zambia, visit www.africanorganicconference.com
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