Experiences of African farmers involved in organic production and trade

There are many highly convincing examples throughout the continent of the enormous development and progress organic production and trade can bring – especially to resource poor farmers and their families. This page highlights some examples. Other advocacy materials are available here.

The Real-Life Impact of Organic Agriculture development on Daily Life in East Africa

The IFOAM OSEA II project has released a series of articles on the real-life impact the conversion to Organic Agriculture has on resource poor farmers and their families. The series of articles showcase success stories in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda and detail the economic, environmental and social benefits experienced by numerous smallholder farmers.  These include improving livelihoods and food security, enabling access to new markets as well as greater resilience of farming systems in times of drought or heavy rains. Furthermore, traditional farming practices are embraced and the financial and environmental burden of using expensive chemical inputs is eliminated.

The articles are available here

Union of Shea Butter Producers, Burkina Faso

The Union of Women Producers of Shea Products of Sissili and Ziro (UGPPK) is located in the Sissili and Ziro provinces, near the border with Ghana. 

UGPPK was established in January 2001 as a union of 18 district producer groups to improve the position of women involved in shea butter production, most of whom are illiterate, and reduce poverty in the villages. It has now grown to 67 groups from 38 villages, and represents more than 3,000 women producers. UGPPK has a high profile in the industry, with a presence at national and international trade fairs, and is a member of the industry body known as the ‘filière’, made up of producers, government ministries, NGOs, and traders.

Main outcomes

·                Since its creation, the Union has trained at least 2,000 women in methods of work that improve the quantity and quality of shea butter production.

·                The Union also fights illiteracy and HIV/AIDS: since its creation, more than 800 women have been taught basic literacy, 20 HIV orphans have received school supplies every year and over 500 women producers have been made aware of the risks.

·                Women gained access to higher value markets.

·                With the good income the women could Canter for the daily needs of their families have : 

·                access to the best medication and education facilities for their families, respect from their husband who could now see them as income generating persons but not total dependants, improve their family social status by discussing their problems during the union meetings and advising one another accordingly.

·                Assist one another in case of problems, for example they paid school fees and bought school equipments for an orphan of one of their deceased members.

·                Being a certified organic member, the union earn premiums from the sold produce which they use for the expansion of their processing unit and developing other sectors in their community, for example they took over the long-term funding of children’s day-care and playground project from one of their main union buyers and the union also intends to build more warehouses for the nut storage scheme.

For more information, click here

FAO Program on Organic Agriculture in West Africa

With German Ministry of Agriculture funding, FAO organized in cooperation with IFOAM and the Fair trade Labeling Organization, a program in West Africa to access high value organic markets. 

Main outcomes

·                As a result 5,000 farmers in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone increased their technical skills and institutional capacity, improved product quality, and gained organic and fair trade certification. 

·                Organic agricultural practices learned through the projects were transferred to the production of subsistence crops that provided a richer and more varied diet and local food security. 

·                With increased income families sent children to school and were able to pay for medical expenses. 

·                The project's impact at the community level resulted in creating jobs for workers involved in the production of certified products as well as supportive services.

·                 Furthermore, the organic production methods have also been adopted by farmers who are not members of the producer groups and some of them have already expressed the desire to join these groups.

More information here

Export Promotion of Organic Products from Africa

Commenced in 1990 the Export Promotion of Organic Products from Africa (EPOPA program) has now enhanced the livelihoods of approximately 110 000 farm families in Uganda and Tanzania through exports of organic products. A fine example of this is the Northern Uganda Organic Shea Project (NUSP).

Main outcomes

·                Improved productivity and local food security

·                Producers gained access to higher value markets, leading to better incomes.

·                Access to richer and more varied diet. Increased social responsibility

·                Improved living conditions

More information here

The Tigray Project in Ethiopia

The Sustainable Development and Ecological Land  management with Farming Communitiy in Tigray  was initiated by the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), the Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development (BoARD), and Mekelle University in four villages of the Tigray Province in Northen Ethiopia in 1996. Within the Tigray project, farmers have used numbers of innovations and organic practices such as composting, crop diversification and improved water management to reverse the developments in an area formerly severely affected by problems such as overgrazing, soil erosion and depletion of water resources, which exacerbate rural poverty. The Tigray Project is farmer-led and builds on the local technologies and knowledge of the farming communities. 

Main outcomes

·                Increased productivity. The higher yields achieved through organic management practices resulted in:

·                Farmers having the evidence and confidence to withdraw costly synthetic fertilizers

·                A greater diversity of crops

·                Improved farm resilience

·                Higher ground water tables

·                Better nutrition and

·                New income opportunities.

By 2008 the successes of the project led to its expansion throughout the country including 165 communities in the Tigray region. Moreover, the Tigray Project has become the government model for combating land degradation and eradicating poverty from Ethiopia.