Science in Society Archive

African Union to Support Organic Farming

Lim Li Ching, Third World Network

An important milestone in sustainable agriculture for Africa was reached in a little-publicized decision made on organic farming by the African Union’s Executive Council in January 2011.

The decision requests the African Union (AU) Commission and its New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency to initiate and provide guidance for an AU-led coalition of international partners to establish an African organic farming platform based on available best practices; and to provide guidance in support of the development of sustainable organic farming systems and improve seed quality

In a speech given by Her Excellency Tumusiime Rhoda Peace, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, to the Conference of African Ministers of Agriculture held in October 2010, which highlighted the potentials of ecological agriculture, she stressed that ecological agriculture generates both economic value and sustainable development: “We believe that promoting it in all of our countries would enable Africa to exploit this niche.”

The African Union had in 2008, co-organized a conference on ecological agriculture in Addis Ababa, together with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Ethiopia, and in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), Ethiopia and the Third World Network (TWN). That conference had concluded that ecological agriculture can provide food security and improve rural livelihoods for African farmers, as well as mitigate and help farmers adapt to climate change. At the time, Her Excellency had remarked that “Support and greater investment in smallholder farmers should be the path to end poverty in Africa”. It is hoped that the recent AU decision will herald the start of a concerted effort to that end.

Article first published 09/05/11

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There are 3 comments on this article so far. Add your comment above.

Rory Short Comment left 10th May 2011 02:02:50
An excellent decision by the AU. I hope that it is successfully implemented because it will encounter big money, like that from the Melinda and Bill Gates foundation, pushing in the opposite direction.

Dr. Henrietta Kalinda Comment left 12th May 2011 18:06:53
There is no guaranteed way of ensuring food and nutrition security and improved livelihoods among small scale farmers while at the same time conserving and improving their operating environment and building their capacity to adapt to climate change effects other than ecological/sustainable agriculture. Ecological/sustainable agriculture works in harmony with and not against nature (i.e., maintains the equilibrium in the ecosystem)and that is the very essence of its sustainability.

David Llewellyn Foster Comment left 19th June 2011 20:08:37
It is abundantly clear to anyone who lives within their senses that animal welfare and organic best practice are the twin pillars of a sustainable future. It could turn out that Africa will become the only viable gene pool on Earth, should the so called developed world so deplete its arable potential through genetic pollution and soil death from industrial methods. All the more reason to look to a future that conserves and encourages the most enlightened approaches possible to African environmental health and social well-being. This will require a new type of political ecology grounded in educational processes that go far beyond anything that has hithertoo existed in the continent. In this respect it is encouraging to see the role of women in public life so fully acknowledged and valued.