Organic drives farm to fork sustainability

From left to right Edith Kalka, Manjo Smith (NOA), and Allison Loconto (FAO expert) at the Namibian Organic Association’s Office in Windhoek.

A new study that explores the emergence of markets for agricultural produce derived from organic farming methods, has included a case study based on local experience.

Manjo Smith of the Namibian Organic Association said “ensuring sustainability from ‘farm to fork’ is a measure that enhances food security as it enables the growing of nutritious foods without degrading the environment.”
In Namibia, markets for organic and other sustainably produced products are gaining attention internationally thanks to a study undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) and the Namibian Organic Association.
“There are incentives that motivate farmers to adopt more sustainable practices, one of them being markets, which could play an important role in the transition towards sustainable intensification. Policy pressures to propose ‘climate-smart’ agricultural solutions and the rise of consumers demanding “sustainable” products, have created market outlets for sustainable food, textiles and energy in developed countries” she expleined.
“This study is one of 15 cases selected for publication in a volume that explores how markets can drive the adoption of more sustainable agricultural practices”, said Babagana Ahmadu, FAO representative in Namibia. The book is a result of a survey that explores innovative approaches designed to link sustainable crop production to local markets in Africa.
Linking sustainable production and consumption through efficient and inclusive food value chains is one of the strategic priorities of the FAO. This approach clearly converges with the objectives of the Namibian National Agricultural Policy (MAWF, 1995), which among other priorities, aims to promote the sustainable utilization of the nation’s land and other natural resources.
Through the Organic Association’s participatory guarantee system (PGS) of certification for organic products, Namibia has been able to ensure that the market drives the adoption of sustainable agricultural products. The PGS brings consumers, producers and other intermediaries together on a regular basis to conduct ‘peer-reviews’ of organic farms. The system relies upon the expert knowledge of farmers to assess farming practices and the interest of consumers and intermediaries to participate and observe these assessments. The system also relies heavily upon direct marketing through members of the network, the weekly Windhoek Greenmarket and through Internet orders for the Organic Box.
The FAO and the Organic Association’s interactions with a number of organic producers, processors and traders show that there is a demand for organic and sustainably produced food, but greater support is needed to set up the institutional supports that can make this food more easily accessible for local consumers.