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Publication | 2017

GUIDELINES FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT TO ORGANIC AGRICULTURE - Version adapted for Sub-Saharan African countries

These guidelines have been adapted to suit the needs and current context of Sub-Saharan African countries. Country examples are chosen to reflect situations that are most transposable to Sub-Saharan African contexts.

Designing organic support policies is a complex undertaking. These guidelines aim to assist policy makers and advocates in their choice of appropriate policy measures.

The two overarching recommendations when it comes to government support to the organic sector are the following:

  • The role of the government in the organic sector should primarily be that of an enabler, and only secondary that of a controllerIn other words, setting up a government organic regulation without supporting measures to promote organic development is like putting the cart before the horse.
  • Policy design and implementation should always be done in a public-private partnership and multi-stakeholder approach. Most of the organic expertise, as well as the motivation and energy to advance the sector, lie with the private sector composed of producers, companies and NGOs working on organic agriculture on a daily basis.

The core of the guidelines consists of a compilation of facts, arguments, best practices and tips on the full panel of policy measures that have been identified to support organic agriculture. They have been categorized into “Push measures”, “Pull measures” and “Enabling measures”.

“Push measures” are those that encourage the supply of organic products, i.e. measures supporting:

  • Organic research and extension
  • Organic input development and use-Organic certification
  • Organic vocational training and academic programs
  • Conversion and maintenance of areas under organic production
  • Agri-environmental practices compatible with organic production
  • Organic operators through general tax breaks
  • Organic farm investment
  • Farm income diversification and agro-tourism
  • Organic processing, product development and marketing
  • Supply chain development projects

“Pull measures” are those that encourage the demand for organic products, i.e. measures supporting:

  • Consumer education and promotion campaigns-Public procurement
  • Domestic trade and retail uptake
  • A common logo for organic products
  • School organic gardening and curricula
  • Export support
  • Organic trade agreements and equivalence

“Enabling measures” are those that have overarching effect on supply and demand, i.e. measures supporting:

  • National data production and dissemination
  • Institutional development of organic associations
  • Building organic expertise within the public sector
  • Development of Participatory Guarantee Systems

Finally, in an effort to ensure policy coherence, one should look beyond the above measures and analyse general agricultural and food policies that can have negative impacts on organic development. The guidelines present a few of such policies and how such they can be amended to avoid such negative impacts. The policies identified are:

  • Subsidies on chemical fertilizers or synthetic pesticides
  • Approval of pesticides imports and pesticide use
  • Unfavourable regulations on farm-made and organic fertilizers, plant protection products and farmers seeds
  • Unfavourable agricultural risk management programs (crop failure compensation schemes, etc.)
  • Allowance of GMO crops