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The Real Green Revolution Organic and Agroecological Farming


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The Real Green Revolution Organic and Agroecological Farming

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The Real Green Revolution Organic and Agroecological Farming

  1. 1. The Real GreenRevolutionOrganic and agroecologicalfarming in the SouthNicholas Parrott &Terry MarsdenDepartment of Cityand Regional Planning,Cardiff University
  2. 2. Greenpeace Environmental TrustCanonbury Villas, London N1 2PN, United 2002Published by Greenpeace Environmental TrustCanonbury Villas, London N1 2PN, United KingdomRegistered Charity No. 284934© Greenpeace Environmental Trust 2002A catalogue record of this book is available from the British LibraryISBN 1 903907 02 0Design by Paul Hamilton at One AnotherPrinted in the United Kingdom by Russell PressPrinted on 100% post-consumer recycled paperFront cover image © Pasha SaaleBack cover image © 2001-Greenpeace/Lopez
  3. 3. Table of contentsForeword 4Food security for all the world’s peopleDr Doug Parr, Greenpeace Chief ScientistAcknowledgements 81 Methodology and approach 1.1 Context 10 1.2 Aims and objectives 10 1.3 Scope and definitions 11 1.4 Research methods 162 The world grows organic. 2.1 Estimating the extent of global organic production 18 2.2 External stimuli for the development of organic agriculture 21 2.3 Towards a typology of incentives and constraints to‘grow organic’ 233 Regional perspectives 3.1 Africa 36 3.2 Asia 45 3.3 Latin America 514 Key themes 4.1 Productivity and sustainability 61 4.2 Organic agriculture and diversity 66 4.3 Natural methods of enhancing soil fertility 73 4.4 Natural regimes of pest and disease control 80 4.5 Markets and premia 90 4.6 Certification 93 4.7 Institutional and political issues 98 4.8 Social and cultural issues 1015 Conclusions and recommendations 5.1 Creating a coherent ‘alternative’ agricultural movement. 107 5.2 Promoting OAA: defining objectives 108 5.3 Global research and advocacy 108 5.4 Building local capacity. 109Bibliography 112Glossary of abbreviations and acronyms 128Appendix 1 – Electronic resources for OAA 130Appendix 2a – Research institutes and consultancies 137Appendix 2b – NGOs and producer groups 138Endnotes 144 The Real Green Revolution 1
  4. 4. List of case studies Case Study 1 The Chagga Home Gardens (Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania) 14 Case Study 2 Organic cotton production in India, Peru and Mali 24 Case Study 3 Cuba: towards a national organic regime? 27 Case Study 4 World Food Day Farmers’ and Fishermens Movement (Indonesia) 30 Case Study 5 Ambootia Tea Estate (Darjeeling, India) 35 Case Study 6 Zaï: a traditional method for restoring degraded land 39 Case Study 7 Organic and ethical banana production 58 Case Study 8 New developments in rice production 63 Case Study 9 Ecological land restoration in Tigray 77 Case Study 10 Sekem (Egypt) 932
  5. 5. List of tables and figuresTable 1 Key aims, principles and management practices of organic farming 12Table 2.1 Certified organic land by country (hectares) 19Table 2.2 Certified organic land by country (% of agricultural land) 19Table 2.3 IFOAM members by country 20Table 2.4 Incentives and constraints to organic farming 23Table 2.4 The sustainable agriculture and rural development prize 26Table 3.1 Organic farming statistics for Africa 37Table 3.2 African organic agricultural products on international markets 37Figure 3.1 Illustration of Zaï or planting pit 39Figure 3.2 The push-pull method for controlling maize stemborer 42Table 3.3 Organic farming statistics for Asia 45Table 3.4 Organic farming statistics for Latin America 52Table 4.1 Examples of yield increases attributable to adoption of OAA 62Table 4.2 Risk reduction strategies of traditional farmers 66Table 4.3 Annual soil loss (tons/ha) at Ibadan, Nigeria 67Table 4.4 Effects of A. Albida on millet yield in Senegal 69Figure 4.1 Influence of trees on maize cropping in Tlaxacal (Mexico) 72Table 4.5 Nutrient management strategies 75Table 4.6 Plants with pest controlling properties 78Table 4.6 Premia generated by organic producers 81Table 4.7 A flow chart for identifying synergies in OAA research 99Table 4.8 Textures of folk knowledge 102 The Real Green Revolution 3
  6. 6. Foreword still largely overlooked by policy-makers, this Food security for all the world’s people movement presents a hopeful alternative to a world that would be dominated by corporate Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace Chief Scientist agrochemical giants and monocultural The crisis in Argentina in late 2001 agriculture. And, as this report shows, organic illustrated again a frustrating and unjust farming is not simply a passing fad for reality: there is no direct relationship consumers in the rich world. Put into practice between the amount of food a country in the South, it can increase food security, produces and the number of hungry people reduce poverty and protect environmental who live there. In 2001, Argentina harvested resources for the future – unlike its enough wheat to meet the needs of both conventional alternative. China and India. Yet Argentina’s people were Organic increasing hungry. Argentinas status as the worlds second largest producer of GM crops – This report identifies some of the positive largely for export – could do nothing to trends currently emerging, for example: solve its very real hunger problems at home. For fifty years conventional agriculture has • Latest estimates of land managed according been getting less and less sustainable. to ecological principles vary from 15.8 to 30 Chemical pesticides, fertilizers and hybrid million hectares (equivalent to about 3% of seeds have destroyed wildlife and crop agricultural land in the South). diversity, poisoned people and ruined the This figure would almost certainly be much soil. Now that the organic movement is higher if de facto organic agriculture taking off in the industrialised world, practiced by traditional subsistence farmers governments, international agencies and were to be included. global agribusiness corporations must stop promoting this destructive system in the • Two thirds of new members of the South. Instead, there must be coherent and International Federation of Organic long-term support – in practice as well as in Agricultural Movements (IFOAM) principle – to enable the nascent ecological come from the South. farming movement in poorer countries to continue to grow into the future. • International agencies – principally the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) The world is on the brink of a second ‘Green and the Centre for Trade and Development Revolution’, which – unlike the first – has the (UNCTAD) – have woken up to the potential to truly live up to its name. This is not potential of organic farming in raising a revolution in biotechnology; still less has it farmers’ incomes, creating jobs and anything to do with genetic engineering. enhancing food security. Instead, it is a global move towards ecological agriculture, which promises to both feed a • Cuba has been moving towards a growing world population and to do so nationwide organic system, and 65% of its sustainably – without compromising the needs rice and nearly 50% of fresh vegetables are of future generations to feed themselves. now produced organically. Argentina now has the largest area of land under organic Working in tandem with nature and cultivation of any country in the world after encouraging biodiversity and local self-reliance, Australia. this new trend towards organic and agroecological farming is vibrant through Africa, Latin America and Asia. Although4
  7. 7. Greater diversity peasant farmers, who are intuitively awareMaintaining agricultural biodiversity is vital to of the dangers of monocropping.ensuring the long-term food security of all the Working with ecologyworld’s people. This report also shows thatagroecological farms exhibit a much greater This report shows how organic andarray of biodiversity than conventional agroecological approaches to agriculturechemical-dependent farms, with more trees, are helping to conserve and improve farmers’a wider diversity of crops and many different most precious resource – the topsoil. In contrastnatural predators which control pests and help to the problems of hardening, nutrient loss andprevent disease. In many parts of the South, the erosion experienced by conventional farmers,diversity of crop species on organic and organic managers across the South are usingagroecological holdings typically numbers in trees, shrubs and leguminous plants to stabilisethe hundreds, in stark contrast to the and feed the soil, dung and compost to providemonoculture encouraged by conventional nutrients, and terracing or check dams tosystems. For example: prevent erosion and conserve groundwater. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy, and the• Indigenous farmers in Peru cultivate best approach varies with local expertise and more than three thousand different types ecological conditions. of potato. Increasing yields• More than five thousand varieties of sweet The widespread assumption that converting to potato are cultivated in Papua New Guinea. organic means a decline in yields has been proven to be false, a conclusion supported• In West Java, researchers have identified by overwhelming evidence contained in this more than 230 species of plant within a dual report. Case studies from many different cropping system, which includes countries – involving radically different ‘agroforestry’ home gardens and outfields. practices, local conditions and crops – show In Mexico, the Huastec Indians manage dramatic increases in yields as well as benefits a number of plots in which up to 300 to soil quality, a reduction in pests and diseases species are cultivated. Areas around the and a general improvement in taste and house may contain between 80-125 useful nutritional content of agricultural produce. species, many with medicinal properties. For example:This diversity is maintained through traditionalseed-swap networks, which are now being • In Brazil the use of green manures and coverextended and encouraged by the organic and crops has increased yields of maize byagroecological movement. Whilst global between 20% and 250%.industrial agriculture has led to a situationwhere the world’s population gets 90% of its • In Tigray, Ethiopia, yields of crops fromfood calories from a mere 15 species of crops, composted plots were between three andorganic and agroecological farmers are five times higher than those treated onlyproviding a vital service in maintaining genetic with chemicals.diversity for the future –a service increasingly threatened by genetically- • Yield increases of 175% have been reportedmodified pollution and corporate biopiracy. from farms in Nepal adoptingThe maintenance of a wide range of crops agroecological management practices.provides food security throughout the year, anoverwhelmingly important consideration for • In Peru the restoration of traditional Incan The Real Green Revolution 5
  8. 8. terracing has led to increases in the order of • The overwhelming majority of Southern 150% for a range of upland crops. organic produce is still sold as unprocessed primary commodities, leaving poorer The importance is not just that yields are farmers still exposed to the vagaries of increased – important as that undoubtedly is – world markets, and meaning that the but that the increases are much more under the benefits of processing and value-adding control of the farmers and communities that remain in the North. produce them, in contrast to a high input agricultural model where the benefits go to the • Much Southern-based organic production is equipment and chemical manufacturers and for export to the industrialised world, seed merchants. raising the issues of ‘food miles’ and how best to protect local food security and self- Economic drivers reliance. However, local and national Across the South, engagement with the organic markets are developing in many lucrative and rapidly growing organic foods poorer countries, notably Brazil, Egypt and market in the industrialised world is still the Argentina. main driving force behind the development of the certified organic sector. Organic certification • Expertise in certification is still can generate big premia for primary producers, overwhelmingly concentrated in the especially from export markets. Although some industrialised world, and achieving governments are now recognising the export certification is a major barrier to many potential of organic produce, its development farmers in poor countries who lack literacy so far has been driven almost exclusively by the and other skills and facilities necessary. NGO sector – often despite official hostility. What is needed Remaining challenges This report makes some clear and practical This report goes on to show that some key recommendations for how organic and challenges remain, however. These include the agroecological agriculture should be supported following issues: and promoted. Some of these are highlighted below. • Hostility from conventionally minded Southern governments and established • Governments in the South should rethink corporate and bureaucratic interests are still the promotion of artificial pesticides and holding back the potential of organic and fertilisers on poorer farmers through agroecological agriculture. extension workers, subsidies and media campaigns, and at the very least remove • Many Southern-based NGOs promoting some of the barriers to NGO activity that organic and agroecological approaches face currently hinder the growth of the organics crippling funding shortages, and are sector. At best, Southern governments should prevented from continuing their work often begin to re-orient their priorities – for want of very small amounts of money in educational, institutional and legal – comparison to that spent in the promotion towards promoting ecological and of conventional agriculture. sustainable agriculture. • Mechanisms for transferring indigenous • Where de facto organic farming is practised, knowledge from one locale to another need it is vital to help farmers develop self- further development and resourcing. confidence in their traditional knowledge so that they do not immediately switch to chemicals once they can afford them, as a6
  9. 9. result of having been told for years that how the movement develops over the industrial farming is ‘more modern’. coming years, and developing synergies between social and environmental objectives.• Security of land tenure is essential for farmers to have sufficient incentive to • In addition, an agreement within the organic develop long-term organic management movement itself is needed on the inclusion of strategies, and in areas where inequality wider social and environmental criteria such of ownership is especially pronounced land as ‘food miles’ and workers’ rights. reform will be necessary for ecological Looking to the future farming to become widespread. The dominant international worldview amongst• Much greater support must be devoted to policy-makers and opinion-formers still holds those grassroots NGOs and projects that are that food security for a growing world the driving force behind the development of population can only be achieved by promoting organic agriculture in the South. This ever more intensive chemical-dependent requires a further mobilisation within agriculture. The evidence from this report is Northern-based agencies to develop their that this viewpoint is dangerously flawed. own projects and work with Southern-based Firstly, the relationship between food security partners, and – crucially – greater financial and food production is complex – famines support from the relevant funding bodies. occur because people lack the money to buy food, not solely because their own crops have• Various successful projects are beginning to failed. Secondly, chemical-dependent agriculture transfer the economic benefits of food is fundamentally unsustainable. It exchanges processing to organic farmers in the South. long-term ecological health (involving issues These include the making of fruit into like biodiversity and topsoil quality) for short- conserves in the Andes to the extraction of term productivity gains, and new developments sunflower oil from hand-powered mills in in the genetic manipulation Kenya. More resources and investment in of plants and animals are set to worsen this these frequently low-tech solutions could disastrous trajectory. Thirdly, food security have significant paybacks for ecological is endangered by encouragement for farmers farmers across to opt for high yielding mono-crops requiring the Third World. substantial inputs. If the crops fail farmers are in danger of losing their land to cover bad• Better links need to be fostered between debts – further contributing to rural-urban drift different disciplines and approaches within in the South. the ‘alternative’ agricultural movement – bringing together (for example) foresters, Ultimately, we believe the key aim at a practical researchers, livestock producers and level must be to knit together the different horticulturalists in regional, national and aspects and drivers of the organic and international networks. agroecological approach into a coherent international movement which is capable of• The development of certification capacity in providing an alternative to the conventional the South – by governments working in system. As ecological agriculture becomes more tandem with established NGOs – needs successful economically, and an increasing to be boosted to prevent the need for costly number of farmers throughout the South decide external inspections. – independently or with assistance from NGOs – to jump off the chemicals treadmill, the• Joined-up thinking between the organic and chances of this real Green Revolution fair trade movements could be crucial in succeeding become greater every day. The Real Green Revolution 7
  10. 10. Acknowledgements Development, Togo), Mª Fernanda de A. C. Fonseca (Brazil). We extend our grateful thanks to the following individuals who have helped with N M Abdul Gaffar (Stassen Natural Foods, this project, primarily through responding to Sri Lanka), Yvan Gautronneau (INRA, Lyon, our survey, but in other instances through France), Maheswar Ghimire (Ecological helping us make contact with key individuals, Services Centre, Nepal), Boghos Ghougassian providing access to libraries and databases, (Middle East Centre for the Transfer of and acting as translators. Alternative Technology, Lebanon), Nicolien van der Grijp: (Vrije Universiteit, Jacqueline Haessig Alleje (Rizal Dairy Farms, Amsterdam), Papa Gueye, (Fédération des Philippines), Mustafa Akyuz (ETKO, Agropasteurs de Diender, Senegal), Carolyn Turkey), Kossi Ahonyo (Centre de Promotion Foster (University of Wales, Aberystwyth). des Initiatives de Base et de l’Environnement, Togo), Marta Astier (Interdisciplinary Group Rob Hardy (Soil Association), Dr. Zahid for Appropriate Rural Technology, Mexico). Hossain (Proshika, Bangladesh), Liz Hoskins (Gaia Foundation). Reena Bansal (Ambootia Tea Estates, India), David Barkin (Universidad Autonoma Rosie Jackson (Soil Association), Pauline Metropolitana, Mexico), Birgitt Boor (Bioherb, Jones (Kitty Seed Project, Gambia), Mariam Germany), Angelina M. Briones (MASIPEG, Jorjadze (Elkana, Georgia). Philippines), Edith Lammerts van Bueren (Louis Bolk Institut, Netherlands), Helen J.G. Kanyi (Green Farming Group, Kenya), Broutschert (Cardiff University), Kath Burton J.J. Kanjanga (Lipangwe Organic Manure (Soil Association), Everard Byer (Trinidad and Demonstration Farm, Malawi) Nichole Tobago Organic Agriculture Movement). Kenton, (IIED), Mustafa Koc (Ryerson K. Cadoret (Henry Doubleday Research University, Canada) Avaz Koocheki (College Association), of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University, Iran) Jon Koshey (Spices Board of India) Tadeu Caldas, (Ecotropic, UK), Daniel Mones Cazon (FAEA, Argentina), Oscar Mao Lamin (Zhejiang Camel Transworld Mendieta Chavez (Assoc. de Organisationes Organic Food Company Limited, CHINA), de Product Ecologicos de Bolivia), Fernando Nic Lampkin (University of Wales, Cruz (Cosecha del Sol, Mexico). Aberystwyth). Marcos Lena (Brazil) Huafen Li (Agroecology Research Institute, China Alexander Daniel (Institute for Integrated Agricultural University), Judy Longbottom Rural Development, India), Sue Edwards (IIED), Emile Lutz (Planeta Verde, Brazil). (Institute for Sustainable Development, Tigray, Ethiopia), Marck van Esch (Bo Friedel Mallinckrodt (SARD Prize), Justo Weevil, Holland), Bo van Elzakker (Agroeco, Mantilla (Ecological and Medicinal Plant Netherlands), Lal Emmanuel (Nagenhiru Institute, Peru), P. Mariaselvam (People’s Foundation, Sri Lanka). Agricultural Farm, Tamil Nadu, India), Laura Martinez (Cardiff University), Prof. Peter Caporali Fabio (Universitia degli studia della Midmore (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy), Ali Faisal (Hyderabad, Luiz Carlos Mior (Cardiff University), India), Luciano Florit (Universidade Regional B. Mohan (Indian Bio Organic Tea de Blumenau, Brazil), Komla Foly Association). (Groupement des Jeunes pour l’Entraide et le8
  11. 11. Elizabeth Nabanja-Makumbi (Mirembe Self (Greenpeace), Anna J. Wieczorek (VrijeHelp Organisation of Uganda), Mamseedy Universiteit, Amsterdam), Jean Marc von derNjai (Gambia Agricultural Extension Service), Weid (Assessorias e Servicios a Projectos emGunnel Axelsson Nycander (Swedish Agricultura Alternitiva, Brazil), JohnInternational Development Agency). Wilkinson (Brazil).Sunny Okwudire (Regfos Green Virginia Zeneteno (Organic Chile Certifier),Commission, Nigeria). Anke Zimpel (University of Wales, Aberystwyth).Suzanne Padel (University of Wales,Aberystwyth), Fernando Pia (CIESA, Particular thanks are due to Bernward GeierArgentina); Carlo Ponzio (Sultan Organic and Camilla Toulmin (of IFOAM and IIEDFarm, Egypt), Kranti Prakash (Ragavendra respectively) who generously acceptedNiwas, India). invitations to referee this report. We are indebted to them for their insights and adviceVanaja Ramprasad (The Green Foundation, on improving the content and presentation ofBangalore, India), Sarath Ranaweera this report. Any outstanding errors remain(Biofoods, Sri Lanka) C. Sundara Rao the responsibility of the authors.(Enfield Agrobase, India), Paul Richards(Wageningen Agricultural University, The The authors welcome feedback andNetherlands), Esther Roycroft (Henry comments on this report which can beDoubleday Research Association) Guido addressed to (Wageningen AgriculturalUniversity, The Netherlands).Abdoulaye Sarr (Recours a la Terre, Senegal),Guillermo Scarlato (CIEDUR, Uruguay),Carsten Schuettel (Rapunzel, Germany),Albert Schwarz (Shiré Highland OrganicGrowers Organisation, Malawi), NadiaScialabba (FAO), Jata Shankar (Mana Seva,India), Vandana Shiva, Research Foundationfor Science, Technology and Ecology, India)C. Shastry, (Phalada Agro ResearchFoundations, India), Richard Soita (HopeCommunity Development Programme,Kenya), Erika Sosa (GreenAqua, Ecuador),Roland Sturm (Hess Natur-Textilien).Laura Thornton (DfiD).Narayana Upadhyaya (Skal, India), Fr.Gregorius Utomo, (The World Food DayFarmers And Fishermens Movement OfIndonesia).Ong Kung Wai (HUMUS Consultancy andMarketing, Malaysia), Fred Wajje (WorldVision, Uganda), Stokely Webster The Real Green Revolution 9
  12. 12. 1 – Methodology and approach (Sen, 1986). In this sense arguments as to whether different forms of agriculture, such 1.1 – Context as GM, intensive or organic systems can ‘feed At the dawn of the twenty-first century two the world’ are somewhat simplistic (Geier, competing agricultural models are 1998). Other significant intermediary factors positioning themselves in an attempt to win influence access to, and distribution of, food loyalty, support and commitment from on the global and regional scales, and within farmers, policy makers and consumers individual communities (Woodward, 1998). (Marsden, 2001). One, a biotechnology-led This said, different models of food extension of the Green Revolution, holds the production do play a role in shaping these promise of feeding the world through entitlements: through making use of different improved yields, greater resistance to diseases mixes of labour and capital (and increasingly and greater efficiency through the nowadays, intellectual property); of locally manipulation of the genetic structure of produced and imported inputs and; different plants (Pretty, 1998). Critics argue that the market orientations. risks involved in releasing GMOs into the environment are unknown and unpredictable Such differences are also reflected in the (ESRC Global Environmental Change research structures that help inform and Programme, 1999). Moreover, particularly develop these different models. Conventional in the South, the adaptation of GMO agricultural research tends to be technology implies a huge and unacceptable laboratory/experimental farm based, often transfer of intellectual property rights (and aiming at producing universally applicable, thus power) from farmers to seed companies context-breaking solutions (e.g. hybrid and laboratories (Shiva, 2001). seeds). Organic research, by contrast, tends to be more diffuse, ‘farm based’, The other model, which we explore here, of participatory and draws upon local organic and agroecological farming is based knowledge and tradition. Significantly, it is upon developing and maximising the use of also focused upon ‘public goods’, resources locally available natural resources to and techniques that are not readily maintain and build soil fertility and to deter patentable but which are, generally, freely pests and diseases. It is a decentralised, available. This may significantly contribute bottom-up approach to improving to explaining why organic research attracts agricultural capacity that relies upon, only a fraction of investment from private promotes and celebrates diversity. Critics of sources compared to conventional and this approach claim that reliance on natural biotechnological approaches. and often traditional, production systems 1.2 – Aims and objectives will prove inadequate in the task of feeding the world either now or in fifty years time – This report was commissioned to provide an when world population levels are predicted overview of the ‘state of the art’ of organic to have doubled (Pinstrup-Andersen, 2000). and agroecological farming systems in the ‘South’ (see below for an explanation of this The ghost of Malthus appears to still haunt terminology). The primary focus of the debates about food security, despite report is on identifying systems, technologies widespread recognition that it is not food and methods which are proving effective in production per se which determines whether increasing yields, eliminating (or significantly the world is fed or not (Grolink, 2000), but reducing) the need for chemical inputs and the political and economic structures which (as a ‘second tier’ objective), in increasing provide, or deny, access to ‘food entitlements’ farmer incomes.10
  13. 13. The aims of the report are: engaged with OAA are twofold: those of• to identify specific (and recently disseminating existing knowledge through developed) projects/systems and, through training, participatory research and this, identify possibilities for developing experimentation, and differentiating OAA and supporting initiatives that have produce through effective yet economic hitherto been neglected or underdeveloped certification processes. at both research and project level; Recent years have witnessed a surge of• (in line with the above) to seek to identify interest in and rapid development of OAA gaps in current knowledge and support; in many parts of the South. The convergence of several sets of interests (commercial,• to provide indicators of likely future developmental, and environmental) around developments (both in research agendas the OAA agenda is in itself encouraging. and project development). After years of being marginalised OAA is becoming increasingly accepted by theIn meeting the first aim we provide a broad ‘mainstream’. The most significantoverview of the state of development of manifestation of this is the recognition byOrganic and Agroecological approaches the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation(OAA) across the South, focusing on (FAO) of the role that OAA can play incountries where a critical mass has begun to promoting ‘sustainable agriculture’. Givendevelop and where innovative new this growth of interest we anticipate aapproaches are being put in place. We significant expansion in both levels ofidentify a number of case studies where OAA production and the ‘knowledge base’is presently proving successful in meeting a surrounding OAA in the very near future.range of diverse objectives: improving yields, This notwithstanding, there remainfood security, farmers’ incomes and health significant practical and attitudinal barriersstatus, and reversing established patterns to its further expansion.of land degradation. We identify in our 1.3 – Scope and definitionsrecommendations potential avenues forassisting with the development of OAA: For the purpose of this study we havebuilding links with existing research and stepped aside from debates over whatextension networks, engaging with constitutes a ‘developing’ or ‘Third World’established grassroots NGOs, and country and opted for a broad geographicalstrengthening effective advocacy of the need definition of the ‘South’: one which coversfor, and benefits of, OAA amongst policy all of Africa, Asia (with the exception ofmakers, farmers and consumers. Japan), Latin America and the Caribbean. This approach gives us the scope to examineIdentifying gaps in knowledge has proven a a wide range of organic and agroecologicalmore challenging task. The nature of OAA, practices existing in different climatic,rooted in specific ecological, agronomic and topographic and socio-economic situations.cultural contexts, militates against identifying The systems and methods that we havesingle key research issues that can provide examined vary significantly from, at oneuniversal solutions. For this reason we have extreme, those that primarily meet householdnot singled out specific research issues food requirements where surpluses arerelating to say, soil fertility or pest bartered or sold, to market (often export)management. Our overriding impression focused production systems. These differentfrom the literature reviews and responses to orientations imply quite different rationalesour survey is that the main priorities of those amongst producers and lead us into a The Real Green Revolution 11
  14. 14. discussion of the similarities and differences weeds and other pests.’ between organic farming and agroecology. (USDA, 1980 cited in Scialabba and Aubert1998) Legal definitions of organic produce are codified in a number of formal standards that Table 1 (below) expands on this definition by define the regimes that producers (or exploring some of the key aims, principles processors) need to work within in order to and management strategies employed in claim organic status. Globally there are more organic agriculture. than 100 different organic certification Table 1: Key aims, principles and systems in place (Van Elzakker, cited in management practices of organic farming Scialabba and Aubert, 1998). Of greatest Aims and principles importance are the international standards: To develop, as far as possible, closed flows of the EU Organic Directive Regulation (CEC, nutrients and organic matter within the farm and 1991), the IFOAM (International Federation therefore promote the ecological resilience of the of Organic Agricultural Movements) Basic farm unit. Standards (IFOAM, 1999) and the guidelines produced by the FAO/WHO Codex Maintenance and improvement of soil fertility Alimentarius Commission (1999).1 By nature • Mixed livestock and arable farming these are prescriptive, defining the applications • Use of farm compost, mulches and green manure (e.g. pesticides and fertilisers) and processes • Recycling and composting of vegetative matter (e.g. irradiation and genetic modification) (including ‘off-farm’ materials) which are and are not permitted in food • Use of crop rotation, fallows and strip cropping described as ‘organic’. These standards are • Use of nitrogen-fixing plants concerned primarily with consumer protection • Mixed cropping to maintain soil cover and and intended to provide unambiguous maximise nutrient availability guarantees to consumers who are in general • Use of deep-rooting plants to recycle nutrients prepared to pay premium prices for organic • Agroforestry produce. Detailed analysis of these standards, and of the differences between them, serves • Use of contour bunds, terracing and other mechanical methods to prevent soil loss little purpose here. Of more interest are the characteristics, principles and working Pest and disease control practices involved in organic production,2 which we explore below. • Crop rotations and intercropping (both of different species and geni) One widely used definition of organic • Companion planting production is that provided by the United • Use of resistant varieties States Department of Agriculture (USDA): • Use of alleopathic / antagonistic plants • Use of physical barriers ‘A production system which avoids or largely (e.g. tree breaks or insect traps) excludes the use of synthetic compounded • Use of natural pesticides fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and • Use of biological controls, such as predators livestock feed additives. To the maximum • Control of carriers extent feasible, organic farming systems rely upon crop rotations, animal manures, • Hand picking legumes, green manures, off-farm organic Adopted from Harris et al.., (1998) wastes and aspects of biological pest control and Scialabba, (1999) to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients and to control insects,12
  15. 15. Notably both the definition and the key aims, ‘organically produced’, and de facto organicprinciples and management practices provided production. Certified organic productionabove make no reference to social justice or forms the basis of what is now aeconomic viability, both of which are key phenomenally rapidly growing market.features in determining the acceptability of This may however represent just the tip ofOAA to consumers and producers alike. the iceberg in terms of land that is managedThe importance of these issues is addressed according to organic precepts but is notlater in the paper – for the moment we (like certified as such. Such de facto organicthe authors above) confine ourselves to farming appears to be particularly prevalentdiscussing the agronomic aspects of OAA. in resource-poor and/or agriculturally marginal regions where local populationsThe characteristics and management principles have a limited engagement with the cashdiscussed above are not solely restricted to economy. In such situations, farmers haveorganic farming. ‘Conventional’ farmers may little alternative but to rely upon locallywell employ some of these techniques. For available natural resources to maintain soilexample, livestock and/or green manures are fertility and to combat pests and diseases.used in many ‘conventional’ farming systems In some instances sophisticated systems ofas a means of building or maintaining soil crop rotation, soil management and pest andfertility. However, they are increasingly being disease control have evolved solely on thereplaced by artificial inputs, as the logic of basis of traditional knowledge. The first casespecialisation in a globalised market place study in this report, of the Chagga Homefavours the development of monocultural Gardens in Tanzania (see over) provides anfarming systems at the expense of mixed ones. example of an intensive, sustainable, multi- functional organic system. Such systems areInnovations in organic farming methods associated with remote areas, often involving(often driven by the need to meet standards) culturally homogenous populations.have a relevance that potentially extends Although primarily subsistence-oriented,beyond the organic sector (FAO, 1998 p.9). these systems often also produce a range ofIn Israel, for example, greenhouse cash techniques pioneered by organicfarmers have now become widely adopted by As in many instances there is no officialconventional farmers (Raviv, 2000).3 recognition of the organic status of this land,Similarly, principles of community ecology there are very few reliable estimates of thedeveloped to control pests in European extent to which de facto organic farming isorchards have also benefited ‘conventional’ practised in the South. Estimates of the extentgrowers (Brown 1999a and b). While of de facto organic farming vary widely. Ourconventional producers may adopt some impression is that the amount of land in theorganic techniques, organic farming remains South farmed on this basis exceeds, probablydifferentiated from conventional approaches by a significant factor, land that is formallyby virtue of its exclusive reliance on natural certified as being organic.4 Kotschi (2000),methods of building soil fertility and claims that ‘80% of registered organic landcombating pest and diseases. in the Third World has not undergone any change in management practice’, suggestingAgricultural systems that rely exclusively on that there is a large pool of organicallynatural methods of building soil fertility and managed land which is not recognised as such,combating pests and diseases fall into two that could readily be certified if marketcategories: certified organic production, conditions permitted.which has been inspected and is verified as The Real Green Revolution 13
  16. 16. De facto organic farming is an approach that for staples (e.g. millet, beans and sorghum) is embraced and celebrated by agroecology. and fodder. It is their home gardens that are of This approach shares much common ground primary interest as they embody many key with the ‘standards-driven’ organic model. elements of organic and agroecological Both promote a ‘closed system’ approach, management strategy. The features of the use multiple and diverse cropping and rely Chagga Home Gardens include: on biological sources for building soil fertility and controlling pests and diseases. • Capture of snowmelt water for irrigation Agroecology, however, is more specifically through an elaborate system of rooted in the experience of the South channelling (particularly Latin America), and places greater emphasis in ‘acknowledging the • A diversity of cropping for cash and socio-cultural and ecological co-evolution consumption purposes, including bananas and inseparability of social and natural (15 varieties), coffee, yams, beans, systems’ (Norgard, 1987). Thus, agroecology medicinal plants, bees and livestock (see contains a more explicit social component below) than the organic approach, whose focus is more upon verifiable technical standards. • Maintaining cattle, pigs and poultry that Further, agroecological research is more provide both protein and manure. strongly orientated towards the social (Mammals are stall-fed with fodder from sciences, embodying a ‘human ecology’ the trees and grasses from the plain and approach (Glaeser, 1995). Agroecological the manure recycled, providing an research is more culturally specific and more ongoing source of fertility) explicitly adopts a ‘farmer first’ philosophy. Agroecological systems do not however • A design to maximise diversity – elaborate provide internationally recognised standards patterns of vertical zoning exist – and therefore do not provide the same providing niches within the gardens for opportunities for attracting market premia as different species and a range of sunny / certified organic systems. While some tension cooler conditions exists between the ‘standards driven’ approach of organic production, and the • The use of a wide range of woody species more culturally relativist approach of (Fernandes identifies and lists the agroecology, practitioners and advocates of functions of thirty nine), many of which the two approaches share a broadly common are multifunctional, providing fruit, philosophy and agenda, and in many fodder, fuel and medicines as well as instances work closely together. nutrients and crop protection Case study 1: the Chagga Home Gardens • Cropping patterns designed to maximise (Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania). continuity of yield The Chagga Home Gardens provide an • Bees, used to provide honey and for excellent model of integrated and sustainable pollination. land management systems that use a minimum of external inputs. The Chagga people farm The area is one of the most densely the southern and eastern slopes of Kilimanjaro populated in rural Africa with about 500 (900-1900m above sea level). Most also have people per square kilometre. Average plot lowland plots on the drier plains, within 20km sizes are small, just over 1 hectare, and of their home gardens. These are mostly used support households with, on average, 914
  17. 17. family members. The system has been sustainable agriculture is an extremely weakmaintained in a stable form for more than form of agroecology, which ‘fails to address100 years. Although individual crops may either the rapid degradation of the naturalsometimes fail, multiple failures are resource base, or resolve the debt trap andunknown. Growing a range of cash crops profit squeeze in which many farmers find(bananas, coffee and, in extremis, timber) themselves trapped’.also provides some protection against marketprice fluctuations. While there are some Sustainable agriculture may be likened toconcerns that the system is approaching its a broad church, which attracts a diverseproductivity limits within the present congregation with a range of different ‘coremanagement regime, strategies for further beliefs’. They include those whose primaryenhancing management techniques may yet concerns are with ecology and ‘farmer first’be developed. Some believe that the approaches, but also ‘high –tech advocatesprinciples of this management system could who propagate a second green revolutionbe successfully transferred to similar upland with gene technology and a new generationareas in other parts of Africa: particularly of agrochemicals’ (Kotschi, 2000 p.653).Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya, although local The attempt to include all these interestscultural and ecological differences would under a single defining banner leads toneed to be taken into account. sustainable agriculture ‘lacking a clear profile’ (ibid.) and lacking clear indicators(Sources: Fernandes (undated), Harrison (1987), or definitions of how it differs fromKüchli (1996)) ‘unsustainable agriculture’.A third approach, incorporating elements ofboth the organic and agroecological models, These disagreements aside, organic,is that of ‘sustainable agriculture’. This has agroecological and sustainable approachesbeen a focus of activity and research within to agriculture share common methodologicalthe ‘development’ field for at least a decade. and theoretical ground in their use ofIt is focused around three core principles: participative approaches to agriculturalthose of ‘ecological soundness, social (and rural) research and development.responsibility and economical viability’ This participative approach to research and(Thrupp, 1996). Many projects and development has, in the last two decades,programmes under the rubric of sustainable grown into a significant discipline in itsagriculture explicitly aim to eliminate or own right, generating a substantial bodyreduce the use of artificial inputs, use local of literature. (For examples of work in thisresources to build soil fertility and increase area see: Haverkort et al.. 1991; Alders etdiversity within farming systems (for al.. 1993, Conway 1985; van Veldehuizen,examples of such projects see Thrupp 1996; 1997; Gündel 1998; Pretty et al.., 1999 andWhiteside 1998; Pretty and Hine 2000b). Bainbridge et al.. 2000). With a focus on theHowever, both the organic and importance of traditional knowledge and onagroecological movements experience some innovation, experimentation and diffusion ofunease about the looseness of definitions agricultural techniques, this body of literatureembraced by sustainable agriculture. As with contains much of relevance to understandingmany other applications of the term how OAA can be better promoted, and we‘sustainability’, tensions can often arise over draw upon it where it specifically relates tooperational definitions of ‘ecological organic / agroecological systems.soundness’, ‘social responsibility’ andeconomic viability (Butler-Flora 1998). In this report we focus both on ‘whole farm’Rosset and Altieri (1997, p.283) argue that systems, and on individual techniques. Whilst The Real Green Revolution 15
  18. 18. the first group represents exclusively organic of ‘grey literature’ in providing current and or agroecological approaches, the latter informed commentary on developments in group may form component parts of organic, the field. Many key texts were only identified agroecological or sustainable farming as a result of the survey that we conducted. systems, be transferable across all three Many were e-mailed to us as ‘works in agricultural approaches and, in many cases, progress’ or internal reports prepared as also be applicable to conventional and more funding bids or project evaluations and not intensive systems. originally intended for publication. We acknowledge the invaluable contribution of 1.4 – Research methods the many individuals and agencies who took The information presented in this report has the trouble to assist our project in this way. been generated by a desk-based literature Thus, in drawing together this literature review, supplemented by a semi-structured review we have tapped into, and sought to survey of organic organisations, NGOs and synthesise, a highly fragmented but rapidly academics and a selected number of face-to- growing knowledge base. face and telephone interviews. Details are provided below of the work undertaken in Survey each of these three areas. In addition to the literature search a survey was undertaken of organic organisations, Literature reviews development and environmental agencies The literature relating to organic and with an involvement in OAA, and informed agroecological farming is spread across academics. The initial sample frame for the a number of sources. At the outset three core survey was compiled from the IFOAM sources of literature were identified: the membership directory (IFOAM, 2000), from organic movement’s own publications which we selected all IFOAM members in (particularly those from IFOAM), those of the South, together with those in the development and environment agencies, industrialised world claiming to have active and broader academic literature. In addition involvement in the South. Relevant a number of electronic information resources development and environmental were visited, including remote access organisations and academics with a known catalogues, the Web of Science and the Index interest in the field were identified and added of Theses.5 Keyword searches were to the list. Requests for information were undertaken on ‘organic farming’ and also sent out on the networks of the ‘agroecology’. Between them these sources International Sociological Association RC40 provided threads into a varied and eclectic group and the food network of the range of fields of literature. International Human Development Project. Throughout the project, a ‘snowball’ effect The role and potential of OAA in the South was generated as feedback from these initial is attracting interest from a range of contacts continued to generate further disciplinary backgrounds including: suggestions of individuals and organisations agricultural, plant and soil science, rural and to contact and which continued to elicit third world development, rural sociology, responses throughout, and beyond, the geography and marketing. Moreover, the contracted period of research. literature is spread across a range of types of sources: academic journals, trade Given the time constraints of this project, publications, conference proceedings and and the broad range of interests of the agency reports. As the study progressed we organisations and individuals whom we became increasingly aware of the importance wished to contact, the survey itself was16
  19. 19. carried out on an informal, semi-structured • Voluntary Services Overseas, Londonbasis. In preference to a questionnaireformat, which may well have limited the • International Institute for Environmenttypes and range of responses elicited, a letter and Development (Camilla Toulmin, Judywas written (and translated into French, Longbottom and Nichole Kenton)Spanish and Portuguese) outlining the projectand requesting details of projects, good • The Gaia Foundation, London (Lizpractice, policy and research issues. More Hoskins and Sue Edwards, Institute forthan 400 copies were sent out throughout Sustainable Development, Tigray)December 2000 and January 2001 (the vastmajority by email) and more than 150 • International Human Developmentresponses received by the end of February. Centre, AmsterdamInterviews and visits • University of Cordoba (Prof. EduardoIn addition to the literature review and Guzman)survey, a limited number of visits were madeto institutions identified as having specialist • The Soil Association, Bristol (Rob Hardy)knowledge or expertise relevant to this study.These are listed below. In most cases these In addition to these, a visit was made tovisits had the dual purpose of using library Biofach (the World Organic Trade Fair) heldresources and meeting with informed at Nürnberg, Germany in February 2001.individuals working at those institutes – This proved particularly fruitful, enablingin all cases these interviews were of an contact to be made with many producersinformal nature. from the South and with representatives from several leading international organic• The Welsh Organics Centre, Aberystwyth organisations.6 These meetings and (Nic Lampkin, Suzanne Padel, Peter conversations significantly helped shape the Midmore and Anke Zimpel) final structure and emphasis of the report. The Real Green Revolution 17
  20. 20. 2. The world grows organic of the extent of organic production on a global basis. Drawing upon the ITC report 2.1 – Estimating the extent of global organic (1999) and other data sources, they identify production around 15.8 million hectares of land around Only in recent years has published data the world that are managed organically. regarding the extent of organic agriculture Argentina is clearly the largest certified in the South become available. The organic producer in the South with 3 million International Trade Centre (ITC) recently ha. (1.77% of its total agricultural land) published a directory on products and under organic production. This accounts for market development in the organic sector almost 19 % of total global organically (1999) with the aim of fostering trade managed land. Other Latin American opportunities, especially for developing countries account for around 1.3% of the countries. This provides a country-by- global total of organically managed land. country analysis of organic production and Africa and Asia account for only fractions demand, together with details of available of a percent (0.14% and 0.33% respectively) produce and the principal trading and (Willer and Yussefi, 2001, p.28).9 development organisations. It also provides some details (though sketchy in places), Whilst these figures provide a useful about the profiles of ‘non-certified’ activity. overview, there are evident omissions in the data. For example, there is no data for many More recently the German organic countries known to be exporting organic organisation, Stiftung Ökologie & Landbau produce to the industrialised world. Walaga (SÖL) published a statistical digest of global (2000) identifies a number of African organic production (Willer and Yussefi, countries which are known to be exporting 2000, 2001). These figures provide the basis organic produce but which do not appear in for a more comparative analysis of the extent these tables. These countries include: Algeria, of organic production in different parts of Benin, Burkina Faso, Comoro Islands, Ivory the world (see tables 2.1. and 2.2, below for Coast, Madagascar, Morocco, Mozambique, summaries). A further useful data source is Senegal and South Africa (see table 3.2). Such the annual IFOAM members Directory discrepancies occur due to a number of (IFOAM, 2000), which lists members by factors. In part there is the problem of a time country, thereby permitting proxy estimates lag in data collection. Even in the EU, which of activity rates. 7 has a strong data gathering capacity, it is difficult to collate information that is less The FAO has also prepared a number of than two years out of date (Foster, pers. studies of organic systems on a global scale comm.). The rapid expansion of certified (FAO, 1998, 1999, 2000a; Scialabba 1999, organic production in the South and the 2000; Scialabba and Aubert, 1998).8 They more limited capacity for data collection have recently commissioned a number of mean that the figures provided in Tables 2.1 specialist reports and are in the process of and 2.2 are almost certainly underestimates. constructing a database of organic literature Other factors may play a key role: the cost (FAO, 2001). Thus the literature providing and other constraining factors of certification global perspectives on OAA, while not (discussed in section 4. 6), means that such extensive, is rapidly growing and is likely data is only likely to be collected for land to be more substantial in forthcoming years. where much, or all, of the crop is destined for export markets. The only likely exceptions to The SÖL reports (Willer and Yussefi, 2000 this are those few countries that have & 2001) provide valuable early estimates established their own (IFOAM accredited)18
  21. 21. Table 2.1 – Certified organic land by country (hectares) Latin America Africa Asia>1 Million ha. Argentina (3M)100,000 – 1 M ha. Brazil25-100,000 ha. Mexico5-25,000 ha. Paraguay, Peru, Tunisia, Uganda Turkey, China, Japan Costa Rica, Bolivia, Guatemala 101-5,000 ha. El Salvador, Chile, Tanzania, Egypt, Papua New Guinea , Nicaragua, Uruguay Zimbabwe Israel, India, Taiwan<1,000 ha. Suriname, Colombia Cameroon, Mauritius, Republic of Korea, Malawi Sri Lanka, Honk Kong, Lebanon, PhilippinesKnown existence of Ecuador, Honduras Burkina Faso, Ghana, Pakistanorganic production but Zambiafigures not availableAdapted from Willer and Yussefi, (2000 & 2001)Table 2.2 – Certified organic land by country (% of agricultural land)Organic land as % ofdomestic agricultural total Latin America Africa Asia> 1% Argentina (1.77%)0.5 – 0.99% Papua New Guinea0.15-0.5% Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mauritius Japan Surinam, Guatemala0.025-0.14% Paraguay, Mexico, Tunisia, Egypt, Uganda Turkey, Republic of Brazil, Peru Korea, Lebanon<0.025% Bolivia, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, China, India Chile, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Malawi ColombiaAdapted from Willer and Yussefi, (2000 & 2001)certifying bodies, where certification costs are (see Table 2.3, over). These provide a usefullikely to be more in line with the premia that proxy method for estimating levels of OAA,producers can expect to obtain on local which cover both certified and informal,markets.11 Organic production systems which ‘de facto’ approaches. Although in somework on a ‘trust’ basis, agroecological and cases IFOAM membership figures fortraditional ‘de facto’ organic systems will not individual countries correspond with thebe included in these figures. Between them amount of certified organic land, there arethese are likely to significantly outweigh many instances where they do not. Forformally certified holdings.12 example, IFOAM has members in many countries that are not identified as havingAn alternative approach to gauging levels of any certified organically managed land.OAA is through analysis of IFOAM Some of these countries (notably Kenya,(International Federation of Organic Senegal, Venezuela, the Philippines and SouthAgricultural Movements) membership figures Africa) have a relatively high number of The Real Green Revolution 19
  22. 22. Table 2.3 – IFOAM Members by Country No. of IFOAM members Latin America Africa Asia 39 India 18 Argentina 16 Kenya China 10 Senegal 9 Venezuela Philippines 8 Chile, Mexico 7 Brazil Burkina Faso, Egypt Turkey 5 Bolivia South Africa Sri Lanka 4 Ecuador, Peru Malaysia, Pakistan 3 Costa Rica, Guatemala, Benin, Cameroon, Indonesia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Paraguay Congo, Ghana, Malawi, Thailand Togo, Uganda, Zimbabwe 2 Columbia, Uruguay Bangladesh, Israel, Vietnam 1 Cuba, Trinidad and Algeria, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Korea, Tobago Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Palestine, Madagascar, Mali, Taiwan Nigeria, Somalia, Tanzania Adapted from IFOAM (2000) IFOAM members, yet there is no data organic farming is practised, although the available for organically managed land balance of views suggests that the amount within these countries. Many of the of de facto organically managed land almost organisations affiliated to IFOAM are quite certainly outstrips ‘certified’ organic land, evidently community and/or peasant farming probably by a considerable amount. Informal organisations who would be unlikely to have use of OAA appears to be concentrated in to have much engagement with export specific countries and particularly in certain markets. Thus the IFOAM Directory types of area (discussed in section 2.3 arguably provides a more realistic assessment below). It is often a ‘hidden’ form of of levels of the existence of non-export agriculture, rarely the subject of interest from oriented OAA within individual countries. government extension agencies and only Differences between data contained in tables sometimes the focus of development and aid 2.1 and 2, and table 2.3 offer clues as to projects. It is likely to be oriented primarily countries where de facto organic agriculture towards local and regional markets, which may be practised on a significant scale.13 further obscures information gathering as to the extent to which it is practised. In view Such deductive reasoning is useful since there of these factors, the development of any are few other ways of identifying the extent definitive global estimates of the extent of de and existence of de facto organic farming. facto and uncertified OAA is an unlikely Our literature review and survey both prospect in the foreseeable future. strongly suggest that OAA is practised more extensively than official certification figures One recent report partially fills this gap by suggest. Opinions vary significantly (see providing estimates of the amount of land chapter 3) as to the extent to which de facto managed according to precepts of20
  23. 23. ‘sustainable agriculture’. Pretty and Hine growing demand for organic produce in the(2001a) undertook a major survey that industrialised world is opening up newidentified 208 sustainable agriculture projects market opportunities for producers in theand initiatives, involving almost 9 million South (FAO, 1999; ITC, 1999). In response,farmers, managing almost 30 million a new breed of ‘ecological entrepreneur’ ishectares of land on a ‘sustainable basis’. emerging, seeking out producers able toThe authors estimate that this is equivalent provide consistent supplies of organicto c. 3% of arable and permanent cropland produce to specified quality Asia, Africa and Asia. Some reservations, This process involves identifying or, in manyhowever, should be expressed over the instances, setting up producer groups whocomprehensiveness and interpretation of are willing and able to meet this demand.these figures. The great majority (70%) In so doing these entrepreneurs often becomeof land that they identified as sustainably involved in areas traditionally associated withmanaged is under new ‘zero-till’ and crop agricultural extension or developmentalcover management regimes which are not work, providing training, research andnecessarily either organic or agroecological. sometimes credit facilities.Moreover, as the authors point out, in mostinstances the ‘conversion’ to such methods Many of the entrepreneurs involved inhas occurred in the 1990s. Thus the promoting the growth of ‘certified’ organicemphasis of this data is very much on produce across the South are based in the‘projects and initiatives’, with the inevitable industrialised world. Swiss, German, Britishimplication that sustainable, agroecological and Dutch companies and individuals areand organic systems that have been particularly active in seeking sources ofdeveloped by farmers, independently of organic produce. Some Southern-baseddevelopment agencies, extension services or entrepreneurs and community groups areNGOs are likely to remain unrecorded. also recognising this potential. However, state support for promoting organicIn conclusion, large and probably production remains limited to a fewunanswerable questions remain over the countries (notably a few countries in Southextent to which OAA is practised in the America, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt and China).South, particularly on an informal basis.In the remainder of this section we turn Few Southern countries have put in placeour attention to identifying the main factors measures to safeguard and support theirwhich are driving the growth of OAA, organic farming systems (i.e. legislation andexamining the role of external stimuli and extension services). Fewer still havethe incentives for, and constraints upon, developed the capacity to undertakefarmers in the South adopting OAA. certification activities, and most work of this nature is undertaken by Northern-based2.2 – External stimuli for the development consultancies (see section 4.6 for a moreof organic agriculture detailed analysis of the issues that this givesIn recent years there has been a rapid growth rise to).15 Increasingly, trade promotionin the interest shown by the South in the organisations, such as the Internationalpotential of OAA. Two thirds of the recent Trade Centre (Geneva) and the Centre forgrowth in IFOAM membership is due to new the Development of Industry (Brussels) arerecruits from the South (La Prairie,14 cited in becoming involved in promoting andScialabba & Aubert, 1998). Several vectors of developing organic linkages between thethis growth can be identified, market forces ‘First’ and the ‘Third’ worlds.being among the most important. Rapidly The Real Green Revolution 21
  24. 24. National and international development agriculture programme , recognising that:16 agencies are a second force that is encouraging the adoption of organic ‘it plays an important role in developing production in the South. Here the primary innovative production technologies, concerns are with enhancing food security, providing new market opportunities for increasing farmers’ incomes and halting (or farmers and processors, and generally reversing) environmental degradation. Such focusing attention on environmental and projects often, but by no means always, social concerns. COAG (the FAO’s focus on maximizing use of local resources Committee on Agriculture) will consider the and knowledge in order to achieve these need for an FAO-wide, cross-sectoral aims. Some projects promoted under this programme on organic agriculture that agenda will be wholly organic, but the would provide information and discussion majority of such projects are neither forums on production and trade, supply explicitly, nor wholly, organic, although they advice and technical assistance, develop may incorporate significant elements of standards and use pilot projects to improve organic practice within them. organic farming techniques.’ (Eric Kueneman,17 1999) The role of organic farming as a ‘development strategy’ has been gaining increasing credibility Since adopting organic agriculture within its in recent years. In 1996 a UNCTAD report remit, the FAO has developed a medium highlighted the role that organic agriculture term plan intended to raise the profile and can play in trade, environmental improvement support the development of organic farming and social development in the third world. systems through developing dissemination Although the report expressed some misgivings and networking vehicles, commissioning about economic viability and technical studies, and providing effective decision feasibility, it concluded that: support tools (FAO, 2001).18 However, the FAO’s support for organic farming maintains ‘Organic production has an undeniable edge an element of caution. For example, in over conventional farming in terms of its several publications they argue for partial beneficial impact on the environment and conversion to offset potential loss of yields. human health. Moreover, it can also contribute to higher incomes, better food Other government-financed development security and creation of employment.’ agencies are also taking a keen interest in (UNCTAD, 1996) organic systems as a tool for development. In the UK, DfID recently commissioned the The report also commented upon the Henry Doubleday Research Association ‘flawed’ basis upon which comparisons (HDRA) to undertake reports into farmer are made between conventional and organic demand and potential for development of agriculture, stating that: organic farming in sub-Saharan Africa (Harris et al.. 1998) and on management ‘if an internalisation of environmental and of manure in the Kenyan Highlands (Lekasi social costs and benefits were to take place, et al.., 1998). A forthcoming DfID handbook organic farming would appear economically for advisors will contain information on justifiable’ (ibid.). evaluating organic projects. A further publication on the role of ‘socially Since then the role of organic agriculture has responsible’ business as a development tool been recognised by FAO, who in 1999 will include a chapter on organic production included it within their sustainable (Agroeco, 2001, van Elzakker, pers. comm.)22
  25. 25. The German, Swiss, Swedish, Belgian and and Cotton project, which specificallyDutch government development agencies addresses the potential of organic cottonare all sponsoring research and/or projects, farming practices – reflecting concern aboutwhich have led (or are intended to lead) the impacts of cotton on water cycles (WWF,to the establishment of commercially viable 1999; Bärlocher, 2000).export-oriented organic developmentprogrammes.19 In some respects therefore, we are witnessing a blurring between what might be regardedA third driving force behind the growth of as developmental/environmental andOAA is the ‘nature conservation’ agenda. commercial approaches to promoting OAA.Though less significant than the previous Many of the development and environmenttwo, it is still worthy of mention. Our agencies are adopting a market-orientedliterature survey highlighted a number of approach in an attempt to secure betterexamples where nature conservation market prices for organic produce. At theorganisations are working closely with local same time many ecological entrepreneurs arefarmers who live in or close to areas of taking on some responsibilities of extensionsignificant nature conservation interest (see workers, and are providing training, advicefor example, Stein 1996; Flores-Escudero; and sometimes credit facilities to theirPanuncio; Pryor; Vreeland, all 2000). Here producer groups.the aim is to maintain the integrity of 2.3 – Towards a understanding of incentiveslandscapes, habitats and biodiversity, and at and constraints to ‘grow organic’the same time ensure that local communitiesare able to maintain or improve their All these external influences must belivelihoods. The recent Vignola Declaration considered in the light of how OAA coincidesand Action Plan (in Stolton et al., 2000a; or conflicts with farmers’ perceptions of the2000b) marked the beginning of what may risks and benefits involved in different farmingprove to be a powerful coalition of interests strategies. In a summary of the potential ofbetween the international organic and nature organic farming in Africa, Walaga (2000)conservation movements (Stolton & Dudley, identifies a range of incentives and constraints2000). On a commodity (rather than site- on farmers’ adopting organic practices.specific basis) the World Wide Fund for We use this typology as a basis for discussionNature (WWF) has established a Fresh Water of the topic in a more global context.Table 2.4 – Incentives and constraints to organic farming 20Incentives ConstraintsDisillusion with ‘Green Revolution’ technologies and Growing rural populations place traditional forms ofan awareness of the dangers of intensive agriculture, agriculture under strain and encourage movesincluding resource degradation. towards intensification.The (increasing) cost of Green Revolution The high cost of certification (especially in regard totechnologies makes them inaccessible to the large local wages / incomes) undertaken by outside 21majority of farmers. organisations.Organic farming draws upon (and valorises) Low literacy levels in rural areas make record-indigenous knowledge. keeping a problem.The influence of the environmental and development Lack of trade liberalisation in some countriesmovements has led to organic systems being prevents development of export markets.introduced to combat erosion and desertification.Growing awareness that international organicmarkets offer premia and the opportunity for farmersto increase incomes.From Walaga (2000) The Real Green Revolution 23
  26. 26. 2.3.1 – Incentives for adopting OAA respiratory illness amongst the workforce, Disillusion with ‘Green Revolution’ improvement in the quality of drinking water technologies and the improved stability of steep hillsides This is most likely to affect farmers with as three key benefits flowing from their direct experience of participation in conversion to biodynamic practices. Second conventional chemical-dependent farming generation environmental problems such as systems that have given rise to what these have often coincided with declines in Paarlberg (1994) terms ‘second generation (or stagnation of) yields obtained from rural environmental problems’. These intensive farming practices and/or declining include: world market prices. Individually, or in combination, these forces are influencing • diminishing returns from repeated many farmers engaged in commodity- pesticide and fertiliser applications orientated production to jump off the treadmill of conventional agricultural • deterioration of soil and water quality production and convert to more sustainable methods. • health-related problems Case study 2 – Organic cotton production in • declining groundwater levels India, Peru and Mali • loss of biodiversity Cotton is one of the most demanding of crops in terms of pesticide and insecticide • increased risk of crop disease. applications. The effect of these on watercourses, human health and ecosystem Part of the problem lies in the toxic nature diversity has increasingly become a cause of of many forms of pesticides and fertilisers, concern (Myers and Stolton, 1999). In many but is compounded by inadequate methods of areas cotton pests are becoming increasingly technology transfer. For example, one report resistant to spraying, and despite increased from Algeria suggests that only a small frequency of pesticide applications, farmers minority of hill farmers read and follow face declining yields. One response is a shift instructions that accompany purchased to organic cultivation, as shown in these agrochemicals (Moali-Grine, 2000). three case studies. The problems outlined above have proved The Maikaal Bio-Cotton Project, Madhya particularly acute in relation to cotton, which Pradesh, India accounts for 2.4% of global arable land but In 1992 an alliance between local farmers, 24% of the insecticide market (Bärlocher, their local spinning mill, sales agents and an 2000). Despite the intensity of agrochemical organic consultancy set about creating an use in conventional cotton projects, organic organic cotton project. Farmers were approaches to cotton growing have been experiencing severe pest problems, despite developed in many parts of the world, repeated pesticide applications: whitefly had creating environmental and economic developed pesticide resistance and many benefits (see case study 2, over). Another of farmers were abandoning cotton production our case studies, of a tea estate in India, also altogether, due to declining returns and highlights the health and environmental toxicity problems. Government researchers benefits of switching to organic production. and extensionists were sceptical of the Managers at the Ambootia Tea Estate (see initiative and suggested changing crops case study 5) identify reductions in rather than method of production. There24
  27. 27. were no other certified organic projects in Sugar cane yields are 30% higher. SugarIndia at the time, and a feeling that the mills also pay a premia for the organicproject was attempting the impossible. cane as it has a higher sugar content. Other products, particularly wheat, attractIn the first year an experimental plot was local market premia because of itsestablished at the mill’s own small farm, superior act as a reference point for farmers.The following year two hundred farmers • Soils have become softer and more crumblyjoined the trial, applying a range of solutions and do not crack as much in the dry season.that had been developed through a series of Farmers attribute this to composting, whichmeetings between consultants and farmers. leaves residual fertility in the ground forSeven years later more than one thousand next year’s crop. Composting also reducesfarmers, cultivating more than 15,000 acres, the need for weeding, as it reduceshave joined the scheme. Organic cotton is availability of weed seeds.the main crop, accounting for around halfof this. It is grown in rotation with a wide • Irrigation requirements have been reducedrange of food crops. due to the increased moisture-retaining capacity of the soil.An extensive infrastructure has been createdto support the project. There is a team of • Pest incidence has been reduced to abio-agricultural extension officers located in minimum. Pest control management iseight extension centres, which serve between now one of the least important discussioneight and fifteen villages each. Regular topics at meetings. Natural predators aremonitoring is undertaken and practical and now very common on organic land andtheoretical training is offered to farmers. A farmers have learned how to monitor andrange of biodynamic and organic techniques encourage their development. Some havehave been developed. These include the use developed these techniques so successfullyof trap and host crops (the latter to provide that they no longer need to purchasehabitats for predators), compost making and biodynamic preparations. By contrast,use of biodynamic preparations. The latter conventional farmers are facing increasingare prepared locally (generating more jobs), pest incidence.and credit for farmers and distribution isarranged. Farmers have a guaranteed market • Most of the farmers have been usingand receive a 25% premia. biodynamic preparations on their land for seven years and are happy with theParticipant evaluation seven years after the results.project was initiated showed a remarkablydiverse set of achievements: • Labour requirements are substantially reduced and production costs for organic• Average cotton yields on participating cotton are 30-40% of those for farms are on average 20% higher than conventional production. on neighbouring conventional farms. These tend to increase with length of • Given the reduced costs, equivalent / higher participation in the programme. yields and market premia, farmers’ margins are now significantly higher than before.• Yields of other rotational crops (wheat, soya and chilli) are equal to or up to 20% • Wider, knock-on effects have been higher than those on conventional land. observed. Farmers not involved in the The Real Green Revolution 25