Organic Growing Pains in Zambia

From The Times of Zambia via AllAFrica.com, a detailed overview of the problems and promise of organic agriculture in this African nation. Export-scale organic agriculture is a relatively new phomonenon in a country looking to diversify it’s economy, and Zambia has seen largely positive returns on it’s investment:

In Zambia, farmers keen to promote and expand the opportunities of organic agriculture founded the Organic Producers and Processors Association of Zambia (OPPAZ) in 1999. The association aims at strengthening the organic industry in Zambia to enable it effectively contribute to national economic growth and poverty reduction by increased production for local and export markets.

Recently (September 7), the organic farmers convened at NRDC/ZEGA Training Trust centre in Lusaka to evaluate the performance of the organic farming sector in Zambia at an Annual General Meeting. The meeting drew farmers from all over the country to highlight their successes and challenges.

Chairman of OPPAZ Br Paul Desmarius said organic farming in Zambia has grown tremendously over the recent years and increased the country’s export earnings.

“Since the association started in 1999, organic vegetables, organic honey, organic wild mushroom and in 2003 for the first time in Zambia, organic groundnuts reached the export markets and last year became organic and fair trade registered. OPPAZ intends to increase export sales to these and new markets by 25 to 30 per cent per annum. The projected global growth for the year 2004/2005 is US$1.6 billion which is 15 to 20 per cent higher than the previous year.” Br Paul said.

Of course, there are still hurdles to jump: the country’s farmers have had difficulty producing a variety of organic agricultural products in sufficient supply to access the international market. While I want to jump on this and say “But producing for the local market is a good thing” (and it is), I also recognize that being able to sell their products on the larger market would have enormous economic benefits.

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