Farmers call for policy to standardise organic produce

Comment & Analysis
BY JENNIFER DUBE STAKEHOLDERS in the agriculture sector are pushing for a national policy to promote organic agriculture which they say can uplift harvests to 13 tonnes per hectare.

The Zimbabwe Organic Producers and Promoters Association (Zoppa) Trust has started lobbying various stakeholders, including government, to promote organic farming at a national level.

Zoppa’s membership includes organic farmers and fertiliser producers among others.

Fortunate Nyakanda, the Zoppa Trust executive director said there was a policy vacuum, which was creating many problems for organic farmers.“Some farmers are doing well producing organically but they are not recognised on the market,” Nyakanda said.

“We need to work on Zimbabwean standards for organic products so consumers would know under what standards the products were produced.”

He said at the moment any farm could claim their products were organically produced even if they were not while others put labels that their products were pesticide free when they were not.

Science and Technology minister Heneri Dzinotyiwei announced recently that Zimbabwe was in the process of reviewing its policy on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) as research has shown that they are harmless.

GMOs are plants or animals whose genes are artificially altered to enhance yields and resistance to pests and diseases.

Government, some scientists and consumer groups tend to treat GMOs with suspicion, saying they would have long-term negative effects on yields and people’s health among others.

Some people have however called for the lifting of the GMO ban on humanitarian grounds during drought years.