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Business News of Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Source: GNA

MOFA urged to expedite development and regulations for organic farming

Participants at an Organic Value Chain workshop have called on the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to expedite work on the development regulations and standards for organic farming.

They said recognising the importance of promoting organic business and sustainable agricultural practices including setting appropriate standards for compost fertilizers, would increase food safety and security.

The workshop organised by the CHF International, Bio Ghana Network, Ministry of Trade and Industry and German Agency for International Development (GIZ), brought together stakeholders from research institutes, transporters, Non-Governmental Organisations, organic farmers, compost producers, agriculture extension agents and other certification bodies.

The participants called on MOFA to ensure that its research into organic farming and related activities is deepened and expanded to help build the capacity of agencies providing technical support to the sub-sector.

“Packaging of organic farming as businesses worthy of investment by local and international financial institutions and the need to intensely network among actors to bridge demand and supply of services and facilitate smooth trade for the export market, is a concern for us” they stressed.

Mr. Alberto Wilde, Country Director, CHF International, said food cannot come better than organic and natural, hence the need to promote the amalgamation of actors engaged in organic activities adding that “poisoning from farm gate is not a desirable situation for any country”.

He said food can be grown sustainably without pesticides or application of chemical fertilizers.

He said “a survey on the status of organic agriculture in Ghana in 2009 revealed that besides the quality of food, the second most important attribute considered in the purchase of organic products was the safety or healthiness of the organic produce”.

The CHF Director said concerns have also been raised about the use of excessive chemicals in the production of conventional produce which had detrimental effects on the human health.

“We have been expanding opportunities to over 2,000 youth in Accra through innovative market driven ideas, which has created employment and income for several people including organic compostable.”

He cited the construction of two community compost facilities in James Town and Avenor in Accra which currently generate sustainable employment for the youth.

Mr. Wilde said a 40 ton capacity educational compost facility was constructed in partnership with the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI) to equip students studying agriculture, waste management companies and to assist the youth interested in composting.

Mr. Samuel Nii Quarcoo, President of Bio Ghana Network, said the Network seeks to provide training and quality assurance within organic value chains, while seeking to collaborate with interested stakeholders.

He said the focus on Network is the production, processing, packaging and marketing or organic fresh fruits, vegetables and stakeholders with expertise in other organic value chains. **