The organic agriculture sector has experienced rapid growth internationally. As consumers become more aware of the impact their decisions make on our environment, they are increasingly making responsible choices. One of these is organically produced food and related products. Organic farming is commonly recognised as a farming system that excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and also manages the production system holistically based on sound social and ecological principles.
The INR worked with stakeholders across the country to develop the organic value chain strategy for South Africa. We first reviewed available literature and collected primary data from organic farmers and organic processors in South Africa. In addition to this, we had focus group discussions and face to face meetings with a range of stakeholders in the sector. Based on this, the project team developed a key issues, opportunities and challenges document as a basis for further stakeholder engagement.
The result of this was presented at three national multi-stakeholder workshops (Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Pietermaritzburg) and the final value chain development strategy was developed based on inputs from stakeholders at these meetings. The project culminated in an implementation workshop, which resulted in the establishment of the South African Organic Sector Association (SAOSO), which is still very active in the organic sector. SAOSO has developed the strategy further and is actively lobbying government to support the sector and to develop an organic standard for South Africa.
Jon McCosh, who led this project, also used it as a basis for his dissertation, which considered the role of social learning in the development of organic agriculture in South Africa