alexa Organic farming policy complete, waiting for Parliament - Daily Nation

Organic farming policy complete, waiting for Parliament

Friday July 8 2016

Members of the public view crops grown organically.

Members of the public view crops grown organically. FILE PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

LEOPOLD OBI
By LEOPOLD OBI
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A new policy aimed at streamlining and promoting organic farming in the country is in the pipeline, after almost a decade-long wait.

The draft of the organic agriculture policy developed by agricultural experts from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) is complete and ready to be deliberated upon by the Cabinet after which it will be tabled for debate in Parliament.

Dr Anne Muriuki, centre director KALRO Kabete, says they are in the consultation stage with stakeholders, including the county governments, for support.

“Agriculture is a devolved function therefore we need the counties on board because they are the implementers of the policy,” said Dr Muriuki.

There is a huge demand for organic produce in Europe according to Dr Muriuki which has seen many farmers shift towards organic farming. The method improves soil fertility and is lucrative at the same time.

“The process of drafting the policy begun in 2009 and is now complete. We are trying to get the government to see that organic agriculture is an important component for both food security and environmental conservation,” said Wanjiru Kamau, KOAN information and policy manager.

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The experts also said that the policy aims at developing the value chain of organic products to ensure market differentiation between organically and conventionally-produced crops so that farmers in the sector get compensated for their extra efforts.

ORGANIC FERTILISER FACTORY

“It is laborious producing crops organically, therefore organic produce should be labelled so that consumers are able to differentiate them.

Consumers are always willing to spend more provided the produce is healthy and of high quality,” Kamau said.

There are early efforts already in the country to take organic farming to another level. Busia County, for instance, is establishing an organic fertiliser company which is seen as a boost to organic farming.

Many farmers in Kirinyanga County growing macadamia nuts have ditched conventional farming for organic farming due to the high demand of the later in Europe.

But market differentiation will come with certification says Dr Muriuki.

“There will be a set of standards to draw a line between what has been produced organically and what is not. The policy also seeks to make certification more affordable to farmers,” the expert said.

Currently a farmer needs Sh80,000 to be certified to produce for the export market. Those producing for local markets do not necessarily need to be certified.