M a r k e t N e w s

Tanzania: Coffee and Flower Growers Turn to Organic Farming

Posted on : Tuesday, 4th October 2016

 Moshi — Coffee and flower growers seem to be ready to embrace organic farming and give up conventional agricultural practices that use synthetic pesticides and watersoluble synthetically purified fertilizers.

 
This comes after decades of conventional agriculture that has seen coffee production, the typical cash crop in Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions drop in quality as well as quantity.
 
Kilimanjaro growers underwent extensive training here in order to acquaint themselves with the new form of agriculture that was introduced and campaigned for in the 20th century.
 
A coffee grower from Mwika Kinyamvua Agricultural Marketing Co-operative Society (AMCOS), Mr Israel Kombe gave testimony to the effect that since he started organic farming productivity has gone high, fetching better prices in the market due to its quality.
 
"It is high time now we all abandoned conventional farming and go for organic one. I for one have already started and wish others to do the same so that they get huge yield but also it is for the sake of the environment," says Mr Kombe.
 
A flower farmer from Hai District, Ms Alicia Godwin notes that with the climate change effects, unproductive trend in the sector and to be on course in safeguarding the environment, she has decided to jump in organic farming.
 
In organic farming the production system sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.
 
Organic farmers are restricted by regulations to using natural pesticides and fertilizers. An example of a natural pesticide is pyrethrin, which is found naturally in the chrysanthemum flower. It is an alternative agricultural system that was initiated in reaction to rapidly changing farming practices.
 
Organic agriculture continues to be developed by various organic agriculture organizations today. The system relies on fertilizers of organic origin such as compost, manure, green manure and bone meal and places emphasis on techniques such as crop rotation and companion planting.
 
Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) along with Ardhi University (ARU) and the United Nations Environment Agency (UNEP) are in the campaign and have been with growers to see to it that they go organic.
 
TBS Acting Director General, Dr Egid Mubofu tells farmers they have to observe the required quality and standards if Tanzania is to realize industrialisation that is being advocated for by the Fifth Phase Government.
 
Dr Mubofu says the spirit would lead to productivity and strengthen the national economy. He says farmers should stop 'business as usual', because it is wastage of resources.
 
He says TBS is ready to offer expertise on how its stakeholders, specifically coffee and flower growers, could benefit by applying required techniques that would give them more yield in quality and quantity, boosting individual and national economy.
 
He notes that the industrialisation concept would remain a dream if farmers were not committed in productivity and calls upon them to focus on sustainable quality production centered on environmental conservation.
 
"The main emphasis in Tanzania now is to establish and industrialised country. I hope you would agree with me that the whole concept cannot be realized if productivity is not maintained in agriculture," says Dr Mubofu.
 
He wants more people to engage in agricultural activities as that is an integral part in producing raw materials for the said industries, saying it would act as a catalyst for investor to start up industries, create employment, increase exports and minimize imports.
 
He says apart from organic agriculture bringing multiple benefits to stakeholders and the country generally, use of foods raised by chemical inputs have affects negatively health of individuals.
 
"The first effects of the chemicals is to the very environment they are used on, as remaining chemicals degrade the environment," says Dr Mubofu who has been a lecturer at University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Chemistry Department.
 
He says crops produced conventionally remain with some percentage of chemicals, meaning the quality is not on the required standard hence lack markets. He is thankful on the way UNEP supports efforts to raise awareness on benefits of organic farming, this time round targeting 50 participants from co-operative societies willing to engage in such agricultural practice.
 
UNEP Country Coordinator, Ms Clara Makenya says they support to build farmers' capacity so that they realise importance of productivity in agriculture but at the same time ensure they avoid environmental degradation.
 
"Apart from the adverse effect the chemicals have on the quality of crop produced, they remain in the soil and go forth to water sources so that users of the precious liquid are affected health wise," says Ms Makenya.
 
She says UNEP works close with TBS and other stakeholders to see to it that sustainability in standards of goods, including crops is maintained but at the same time ensure environment is safeguarded to mitigate climate change effects and stop global warming and production of unwanted gases.
 
"Under this project UNEP manages and intensifies efforts in coming up with plans to produce quality goods in ways that are friendly to the environment so as to strengthen sustainability in make up and use of resources.
 
We have come up with eco-labelling," she says. Eco-labelling is a method of environmental performance certification and labelling that is practised around the world. An ecolabel identifies products or services proven environmentally preferable overall, within a specific product or service category.
 
In contrast to 'green' symbols or claim statements developed by manufacturers and service providers, the most credible labels are awarded by an impartial third party for specific products or services that have been independently determined to meet transparent environmental leadership criteria, based on life-cycle considerations.
 
The roots of ecolabelling are found in the growing global concern for environmental protection on the part of governments, businesses and the public.
 
As businesses have come to recognize that environmental concerns may be translated into a market advantage for certain products and services, various environmental declarations, claims and labels have emerged, such as natural, recyclable, eco-friendly, low energy, recycled and content.
 
These have attracted consumers looking for ways to reduce environmental impacts through their purchasing choices, but they have also led to some confusion and skepticism. Unproven or irrelevant claims have been branded 'greenwash'.
 
Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
 
That is an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972. Organic agriculture, with rare exceptions, prohibits synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms and growth hormones.
 
Since 1990 the market for organic food and other products has grown rapidly, reaching 63 billion dollars worldwide in 2012. The demand has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland that grew from 2001 to 2011 at a compounding rate of 8.9 percent per annum.
 
As of 2011, approximately 37,000,000 hectares worldwide were farmed organically, representing approximately 0.9 percent of total world farmland.
 

Source : allafrica.com
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