Organic farming and its impact in South Africa

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Organic farmingOrganic farming


Organic farming and its impact in South Africa

Organic farming is a new buzzword in the agricultural sector. It involves using organic, non-harmful methods to tend to your land and care for your livestock, and is growing in popularity among commercial and private farmers alike. People are starting to realise that taking care of the environment is important, and what better industry to make a change than agriculture?

Organic farming in South Africa is having an impact on a diverse variety of industries, such as food and drink or retail. If you are interested in finding out more about this revolutionary agricultural practice, read on below for some more information.


What is organic farming?

Organic farming means that you are producing goods in harmony with nature. This means you farm without the use of harmful chemicals and genetic engineering. The growth of the produce relies solely on existing ecological processes and biodiversity, combining innovation and science for massive benefits.

Some of the methods of organic farming include using natural insecticides, planting to attract insects to ward off pests and rotating crops. These harm-free practices extend to livestock too, and include grazing at pasture and chemical-free feed rations. Simply put, organic farming in South Africa is a wholesome and holistic farming method that is contributing positively to the environment.


Certification and support

In South Africa, there are two certification agencies, Afrisco and Ecocert. Afrisco is in the process of becoming ISO certified, which means that it will be able to attain EU certification. The Organic Agricultural Association of South Africa (OAASA) and the Biodynamic Agricultural Association of South Africa (BDAASA) are two organisations which are assisting the organic sector in the country.

There is growing support for the organic sector, which means that it is set to have a significant impact on the agricultural industry. However, there are still regulations that farmers have to meet for their organic farms, such as being audited and having their soil tested for any use of harmful chemicals. While this might sound tedious, it is all in an effort to continue to build the organic farming industry in South Africa.


Why farmers should certify

There is a burgeoning demand for organic produce in the country, and this want is growing even more due to water restrictions in some provinces. But, these consumers want assurances that what they are buying is 100 percent organic. This is where a certification can help immensely in reaching the commercial market.

If you certify, your products will have a label placed on them for retailers, alerting consumers that your products are organic. It will also protect farmers who are following the rules from suffering the bad reputations of those who are not. Certification will help to ensure your products are up to standard and will make it easier for you to access high value markets. Retailers will likely consider selling your produce over others if you are certified.


The challenges of organic farming

While it is a highly eco-friendly practise, there are some challenges that organic farmers face. You might find that, at the outlay, you are confused about the new methods and might have to change the layout of your farm to accommodate the changes. Below are just some of the challenges you might face:


  • Standards can be difficult to meet: Consumers these days have high standards for their organic produce. These can be difficult to meet, especially if you are just starting out and breaking into the market. It can be daunting for new farmers, but it is worth it to switch over to organic methods.


  • The retail market is strict: As mentioned above, there are high standards for organic produce, especially in the retail sector. You might practise a certain fertilisation method and it might work wonderfully, but some retailers might frown upon it, deeming your food unable to be sold in their outlet.


The benefits of switching to organic farming

Switching over to organic farming in South Africa brings with it an abundance of benefits. While it might seem as though it is time-consuming, the results will speak for themselves. The benefits of organic farming include:


  • Less compacted soil: One of the major benefits of organic farming is that the soil becomes less compacted. This makes tilling and planting easier and more efficient, as well as helps to prevent soil erosion.


  • Reduced production costs: You will be using less agricultural equipment, which means that there will be less production costs to incur. You can spend the money you have saved on increasing your organic methods and on marketing your goods, rather than having to repair tools.


  • Improved health of workers: Because you will be using less harmful chemicals, your workers will have improved health. They will not be breathing in herbicides and pesticides, making for a safer and healthier work environment.


While there are certainly challenges to be faced with organic farming in South Africa, the benefits outweigh these tenfold. If you are interested in joining the movement, do some research and find out how you can contribute to saving the planet, one crop at a time. 

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