On the sidelines of the BIOFACH-VIVANESS 2022 organic agricultural fair in Nuremberg, the implementing partners of the GIZ-initiated Knowledge Center for Organic Agriculture in Africa (KCOA) project met in a workshop on August 1, 2022 to explore the challenges of organic agriculture and agroecology on the continent.
The networking workshop for organic and ecological agriculture stakeholders in Africa organized by the German Cooperation took place in a hybrid meeting held face-to-face and online.
On August 1, 2022, in addition to the members of the African organic farming Knowledge Hubs and the KCOA project staff present in Germany, several dozen of other participants were online from North, South, East, West and Central Africa. They exchanged on the opportunities and constraints of organic agriculture on the African continent.
The first challenge is to agree on the fundamentals of organic farming in African countries. Indeed, the sector is at several speeds on the continent.
While some nations are planning to revise their regulations on the organic agriculture sector, others do not have any laws on the matter. Participants noted the need to harmonize positions, starting with the question of what do Africans mean by organic agriculture for them. At the local level, several organizations are primarily oriented towards the promotion of agroecology. This is the case of the Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in West Africa (KHWA), which claims to be in the midst of an ecological transition.
The member organizations of the KHWA are currently lobbying strongly in their countries for the recognition of agroecology in the sub-regional programs.
By relying on local knowledge, they promote agroecological systems as endogenous solutions to the problems of climate change that affect the production chain.
For the representatives of the Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in North Africa (KHNA), agroecology and organic agriculture have a common goal: the search for the well-being of man in his environment through the practice of a «humanistic agriculture.
In most of the countries of the Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Eastern Africa (KHEA) and the Knowledge Hub for Organic Agriculture in Southern Africa (KHSA), organic sector laws are in place. Actors are still struggling to obtain funding and attract the interest of researchers to advance production techniques.
In Central Africa, and particularly in Cameroon, the pilot country of the sub-regional Hub, a draft law on organic agriculture has been developed since two years. The official adoption of the law is still pending. The networking of the sector’s actors within the Hub is under construction.
In the five Knowledge Hubs of KCOA, the shared challenges are ultimately the institutional positioning of organic agriculture and the thorny issue of organic inputs.
Institutional recognition will pave the way for public funding. Research involvement in the organic field will be boosted. The adoption of public organic policies will allow to address without complex the objectives of food security in organic agriculture. This is all the more important as production techniques will be developed. Support to certification and marketing processes for organic products will be effective. And adapted training courses will be implemented.
The August 1st networking workshop was the first full-scale meeting of the five Knowledge Hubs of organic agriculture in Africa. It rekindled the enthusiasm of the partner organizations of the KCOA project to promote organic and agroecology through appropriate interventions.
Marie Pauline Voufo