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August 31, 2007

Scheme promotes organic farming in Swaziland

A scheme in Swaziland affords farmers the chance to explore the opportunities organic farming offers them. TechnoServe Deputy Director Lance Stewart said there was a growing trend across the world whereby consumers were going back to organic produce.

"On Agriculture Day during this year's Trade Fair, representatives from the Organic Freedom Project (OFP) will deliver presentations on available opportunities within the organic produce environment and how best local farmers as well as entrepreneurs can access them," said Stewart. "This offers a lot of opportunities for rural farmers to engage in businesses that can have a positive impact in their lives."

The OFP is a partnership of South African companies, Anglo-American and supermarket chain Pick 'n Pay, which aims to establish organic farming in southern Africa. It has available markets for organic products in all Pick 'n Pay stores in southern Africa, ranging from textiles, cotton, fruits, vegetables, milk, chickens and eggs, amongst others.

The TechnoServe deputy director warned that farmers should not take organic farming as an easier option. "Even the feed given to the animals should be organic before the end product can be certified as such." He said this then presented another business opportunity for farmers as there would be a need for some of them to provide feed for the producers of the end product.

Stewart said farmers could turn around small sectors like indigenous chickens into viable organic businesses that could impact rural farmers' lives by providing them with extra income. However, he said the markets demand that farmers should form themselves into groups, as this made working easier for both the market and them. This approach enabled many farmers to access the markets through their respective associations.

"Conventional markets demand consistent supplies and volumes, as such, when farmers commit to supplying these markets, they shouldn't make half hearted attempts," Stewart advised.

The Swazi Observer

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