Experts in organic farming practices say that the harmonization of its standards by the 15 ECOWAS member countries will improve the quality trade of products and certified products in the region.
They gave the assurance at the end of the 6th West African conference on organic farming with the theme: “Feeding the world without poisoning” which was held in Ouagadougou.
The conference brought together participants from around the world who wondered how to ensure healthy and sustainable farming practices.
Experts assured participants that harmonization of standards is for the benefit of the health of the populations of Member States and their environment.
Mr. Ernest Aubee, Chief of Agriculture, ECOWAS Commission, Abuja, said the standards documents would be submitted to ECOWAS headquarters for ratification and approval.
Aubee is also president of the regional steering committee for ecological organic farming (AEO).
“In West Africa, we have different standards in different countries, while some countries do not have any at all; this harmonization will therefore protect the interests of both groups, ” he said.
Aubee added that organic farming is growing rapidly globally, but the pace is still slow in West Africa compared to East Africa, Europe and Australia.
“This harmonization will accelerate the development of organic farming, regional growth of food and security integration.
“We want to ensure food safety and security so that our people not only have enough to eat, but eat good and nutritious food.
“I encourage stakeholders to appreciate and incorporate these harmonized standards when they are approved, in the interest of the region,” he said.
In his contribution, Mr. Rene Emmenegger, Project Manager, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM), underlined the importance of organic farming standards.
He said standardization would improve the development of organic agriculture in West Africa and also encourage export businesses.
He added that IFOAM provides a platform for organic standard setters to discuss standards and create synergies for the development and harmonization of standards to also facilitate trade.
“Agriculture and certified organic farming without viable trade is not sustainable.
“It will bring product diversity, process simplicity, farmer empowerment and easy access to standardized products and products in the region.
“It will also promote and increase the supply of organic products and products and stimulate the growth of the organic sector in the region,” he said.
In another contribution, Dr Olugbenga AdeOluwa, Secretary of the Ecological Organic Agriculture (AEO) West Africa Cluster, noted that political and financial support was needed for appropriate formulation and implementation of standards. .
AdeOluwa suggested adopting stand-alone ODA policies, strategies and frameworks that support regional standards.
“These policies should give clear guidelines and full support for the production of organic inputs and products.
“Policies should have appropriate institutionalization and inclusion of all stakeholders and public-private partnerships.
“It must include a bottom-up approach in the implementation of the policy that provides good opportunities for farmers to contribute to the process and ensure its success,” he added.