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AGI Champions Organic Agriculture   
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The marginal-growth prone manufacturing sector could receive a boost by focusing efforts on servicing the growing international organic foods market, Nana Owusu-Afari, President of the AGI, has observed.

Addressing a one-day seminar on organic agriculture and fair trade for industrialists and officials of government agencies, Nana Owusu-Afari said a significant number of member companies of the Association of Ghana Industries are engaged in organic and fair trade exports.

“However, there is still little knowledge and awareness of these two related concepts of sustainable agriculture and agro-processing in Ghana,” he said.

Mr. Thomas Baier, a consultant with the Federation of German Industries (BDI), co-sponsors of the seminar, noted that globally the trade in organic agricultural produce is expanding - with land under cultivation for organic crops increasing from 11 million hectares in 1999 to over 37 million hectares in 2009.

Ghana’s total land under organic crop cultivation is estimated at 29,140 hectares, second to Liberia, which has over 72,400 hectares under organic crop cultivation.

Organic and fair trade markets are noted as fast-growing, high-value market niches in key export destinations; however, Ghanaian agricultural producers - contributing about 30 percent to the country’s GDP - are said to be missing out on an important driver of growth and development.

The AGI notes that the key obstacles confronting Ghanaian agricultural exporters are the multiple labels, certifications and standards whose differences and benefits are not always clear to local producers.
Mr. Baier explained that organic agriculture is a systematic and scientific way of producing crops which attract premium pricing as a result of specific consumer needs.

“It is not necessarily just farming practices that desist from the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, but a modern approach to crop production in a healthy and sustainable way,” Baier said
Source: B&FT

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