Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Organic Food Production Option for Improvement in Africa

According to a research note from UNCTAD, even as demand for most products is dropping fast in this current economic crisis, demand for organic products continues to grow, creating an opportunity for farmers in poor countries. "Studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America indicate that organic farmers earn more than their conventional counterparts," the note said, estimating that organic foods carry price premiums for farmers ranging from 30 to 200 percent. Drawing on a study of 331 Ugandan farmers, it concluded that "conversion to organic was fairly easy, involved little risk and required few, if any, fixed investments. The organic households became more food-secure due to higher incomes." In Africa, where agriculture accounts for 57 percent of employment but just 11 percent of export earnings, UNCTAD said ecological farming techniques could have an especially large impact.