Thanks to a $2.4 million German-backed FAO program that has helped them meet necessary certification and other requirements, nearly 5,000 West African farmers are able to take advantage of the growing popularity of organic foods in industrialized countries.
The project focuses on all stages of the supply chain from production, harvesting and packaging to certification and marketing. The vital part of the project pays for the costly certification process in the conversion period and to support better hygienic conditions to comply with high international quality standards.
FAO projects in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal and Sierra Leone helped farmer groups and small exporters overcome the difficult conversion period from conventional to organic agriculture during which they tend to incur higher costs as a result of applying new organic techniques without yet obtaining the higher prices usually associated with the organic label.
Living conditions and food security in these areas have improved because the increased income generated through sale of certified organic products is mainly used for purchasing food and clothing, paying for school fees, and paying for medical expenses.
The project’s impact at the community level has resulted in the creation of jobs for workers involved in the production of certified products as well as supportive services. The new organic production methods have also been adopted by farmers who are not members of the producer groups and some of them are expressing a desire to join the new organic groups.
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