Organic agriculture and certification in Eastern Africa


Christoph Rosinger

Organic agriculture and certification in Eastern Africa

Shabka Background Nr. 2-2013

Organic agriculture is an upcoming sector and at any continent you may consider, the numbers of organic farmers and the area under organic cultivation are rising notably. In almost all European countries, organic farming has been rapidly developing since the beginning of the 1990s. In the period from 2000 to 2008, the total area under organic production including the in-conversion areas increased from 4.3 to an estimated 7.6 mio ha, which equals an increase of 7.4% per year.

Whilst certification plays a major role in the Western organic farming system, one must bear in mind that organic agriculture is not just limited to certified organic farms and products but includes all agricultural production systems that use natural processes rather than external inputs to enhance agricultural productivity. This consideration is of special importance when one is dealing with organic farming practices in developing countries. In the rural regions of countries of the Southern hemisphere, organic agriculture „by default“ is still the most wide-spread agricultural practice as many farmers lack market access to modern farming techniques like hybrid seeds, mineral fertilizers or synthetic pesticides. Still, organic agriculture and the interlinked certification has become a more and more important factor in developing countries, as the demand for certified organic products from the South increases in Western countries.

This paper starts with a short overview of the current state of organic agriculture in Africa, whereby the focus will be on organic agriculture and its certification for export purposes. The certification system of this region shall be illustrated at the example of the United Republic of Tanzania. The aim is to analyse the opportunities and threats of organic agriculture and organic certification especially for smallholder farmers with special regard to food security issues. While certification and the ensuing export of organic products can constitute a new source of income, it can involve the danger of an exaggerated run into an export oriented economy, followed by an increasing dependency to fluctuating world market prices and a decrease of the self-supply rate.


Shabka Background Nr. 2-2013

Christoph Rosinger: Organic agriculture and certification in Eastern Africa

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