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Sudan: Development of organic markets crucial for the promotion of organic farming

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At the conference International Conference on Organic Farming ICOF which was held in April 2010 in Sudan, several papers on the current situation of organic farming in this country were presented.The collection of abstracts furthermore contains a number of papers on production related issues. 

The paper 'Towards a National Organic Agriculture Program in the Sudan'  by Kamal E-Siddig & Abdelmagid Elmubarak of the Agricultural Research Corporation gives insight into the history and the current situation and needs for policy action in Sudan. 

According to this paper, the formal organic sector in the Sudan remains relatively underdeveloped and statistics concerning its status are often difficult to find. "However, the traditional agricultural subsector, which is a de facto low external input system, offers a huge potential for the development of organic agriculture. Serious steps towards the adoption of organic agriculture began in 2001 with the inception of the Organic Agriculture Program (OAP), funded by the Arab Authority for Agriculture Investment and Development (AAAID) and implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MOAF). The Sudanese Society for Organic Agriculture (SSOF) organized a series of workshops between 2004-2006 to create awareness about organic farming among producers, consumers and policy makers. The Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) supports a project to promote the exports of organic bananas from Sudan and Ethiopia to the Middle East and Europe. The Sudanese Standards and Meteorology Organization (SSMO) have also been instrumental in pursuing some organic agriculture-related activities. In spite of all these initiatives, the country still lacks national policies and regulatory frameworks for organic agriculture.

The government, through the Agricultural Revival Program (ARP), is committed to promoting organic farming in the country. However, the instruments are inadequate and not well integrated. Inadequate research, extension services and manpower especially on production and marketing information and input supply have hindered promotion. Organic product legislation, standardization, certification and infrastructure are also major issues of policy concerns.

A policy in the form of a National Framework is a necessity for the organic sector to flourish and realize its potentials. The Framework is to outline key approaches and strategies to promote organic farming in the country. Formulation of National Standards of Organic Agriculture Production and Processing will be an important step to help organic producers, promoters and certifiers to contribute to organic production and processing. The Framework is to advocate establishing organic famers’ groups and pilot activities in areas of high potentials. Development of organic markets, both internal and external, should be seen as crucial to promotion of organic farming."

The paper 'Assessment of Potentialities of Organic Agriculture in Sudan Within The last Five years' by  Saada N. A. ELmahi of the Medicinal and Aromatic Plants Research Institute (MAPRI), National Centre for Research and Saifeldin, and M. El-Amin of the College of Agricultural studies, Sudan University of Science and Technology, analyzes the main constraints to the sector's developement.

"Over the last five years, a common understanding on organic agriculture as a sustainable mode of production has strongly grown among the Sudanese community. Furthermore, the importance of this type of production is progressively enhanced amongst researchers and academicians. In July 2005 a study on the potentialities of Sudan in organic agriculture was conducted, to assess the situation and acceptance of the concept amongst stakeholders, individuals and institutes. The study indicated that the concept of organic agriculture is fully accepted by the targeted groups The importance of organic agriculture in achieving self sufficiency, rural development and its contribution to the reduction of cost of production were ascertained. Most of the organizations (71.4 percent), are dealing with the definition of organic agriculture under the name of sustainable agriculture, and 46.7 percent were adopting and supporting or promoting traditional agriculture as a non-certified organic agriculture system. Some of them adopted the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods. The study also showed that no regulations were in vogue   in Sudan, and the existing agricultural legislations had no effect on organic production especially in the storage, processing and the transfer stages. But, 75 percent of the available legislations supported the marketing of agricultural organic products. The lack of a strategic plan to develop organic agriculture in the Sudan was also apparent. One of the constraints was the absence of an authorized body to register and certify the Sudanese organic products, albeit that most of the products are produced traditionally and naturally using no or low synthetic inputs. It was revealed that 72 percent of the productive institutions employed organic fertilizers, 36% used herbicides and 57 percent adopted the IPM methods, while 25.8 perecent were using organic substances and the same percent using chemicals.

Main constraints facing the adoption of organic production in Sudan are defined as, lack of awareness and know–how, weakness of agricultural extension and lack of coordination between the relevant agricultural institutions.  Currently, assessment of the situation is reassessed within same institutions using the same questionnaire samples with few modifications. This paper aims at studying the progression in the organic agriculture movement in Sudan and the development occurring during the last five years. This will be achieved by surveying targets from academic and research institutes. The results are be compared by the one achieved five years ago."

Source: Abstracts of the International Conference on Organic Farming (ICOF), Friendship Hall, Khartoum, Sudan, April 6-7, 2010

Editor's note

According to the latest survey on organic agriculture world-wide, in Sudan 65'000 hectares of agricultural land are manged organically, this constitutes 0.05 percent of the country's agricultural land. 

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