Over the last two decades, the development of Organic Agriculture has gained momentum in Africa. Agricultural land under organic farming is steadily increasing according to data released by FiBL. Dr. David Amudavi, the BvAT Director, said this when he spoke at the Biofach Session on the Global Organic Market Overview attended by over 200 people. The session looked deeper into the market developments and reflected about trends and strategic market positioning following presentation of new statistic figures on the first day of the fair.
Presenting on the African perspective, he noted that according to the latest FiBL data, Africa had almost 2.1 million hectares of agricultural land under organic farming in 2017, which is 0.2 percent of the continent’s total agricultural area and 3 percent of the global organic agricultural area. This is an increase of about 255,000 hectares or 14 percent compared to 2016, and it increased by more than 2 million hectares from the 52,000 hectares in 2000. The current organic size area is from 44 countries that reported data on organic activities. Tunisia has the largest organic area, with almost 306,500 hectares. There are at least 815,000 organic producers in Africa; Uganda having the highest number, with over 210,000, followed by Ethiopia with over 203,000 and Tanzania with over 148,000. The island State of Sao Tome and Principe has the highest organic share of the total agricultural land, with 18 percent of its agricultural area being organic, followed by Tunisia with 3 percent and Egypt with 2.8 percent.
These figures may be under-reporting the true situation. However, David underscored the potential of organic agriculture in Africa. He recommended that to tap into the potential of organic/ecological agriculture to improve food and nutrition security, income and employment among other outcomes, we need to build capabilities and strengthen business development services (BDS) for farmers and other value chain actors – to enable them tap into emerging markets at local, domestic, regional and international levels. Stimulation of demand for sustainable products and healthy consumption is needed through raising awareness among consumers and businesses starting from local and going global. Sharing evidence of successful examples of Organic systems and practices demonstrating benefits (economic, environmental, social, cultural, etc) to motivate wide-scale application is absolutely necessary. He further emphasized that having a robust framework of impact assessment will allow for analysis of local context and that specificity and flexibly will allow data aggregation and meta-analysis on the multi-dimensional performance of Organic systems. This will be through operational data management and data analysis, which will contribute to policy action. We eventually need a policy environment conducive to truly sustainable production and consumption and this requires among other things making investments into research, education, extension and markets and trade in the organic sector.
David finally informed the participants about the upcoming Agroecology and ecological organic trade conference in Nairobi (June 25-27) and possibility of Nairobi hosting the first Biofach Africa in 2020.