Certification - just obey the rules!
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CTA. 2002. Certification - just obey the rules!. Rural Radio Resource Pack 02/4. Wageningen, The Netherlands: CTA.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/57423
A medicinal herb grower from South Africa describes the process of cleaning and certifying her farm for organic production, and the potential for other farmers.
Certification - just obey the rules! Cue: For some crops, buyers are only really interested in organic produce. For example medicinal herbs. Nobody wants to make medicines from herbs that might be contaminated with pesticides or chemical fertilizers. So medicinal herb growers must be able to prove that their crops are pure, and the best way is to get organic certification. But how easy is it to become a certified organic farmer? Many small farmers may be discouraged by fears of the high costs and complex rules they would need to follow. Maggy Frayne disagrees. As a grower of medicinal herbs in South Africa, she has had to obtain certification for her land and her processing system. But, as she told Lesibana Mantshiu, getting certification was not impossibly difficult, and there are ways of reducing the cost. IN: ?We have a 40 hectare farm ? OUT: ? cut the costs down.? DUR?N 2?35? BACK ANNOUNCEMENT: Maggy Frayne with some advice for farmers who are thinking about organic certification. Transcript Frayne We have a 40 hectare farm, which is in an irrigation system north of Brits. This farm was basically a wrecked farm, because it had been used for tobacco farming, where they use a lot of chemicals. We wanted to grow medicinal herbs and in order to do that successfully the herbs have to be grown organically, free of pesticides, free of herbicides, free of chemicals. So we set about, for three years, converting the land and getting rid of the chemical residues that were in the soil. We planted things like sunnhemp and cowpea, crops that would feed the soil, and eventually our soil was satisfactorily tested to be free of any chemicals. Mantshiu Now Maggy, describe how you get organic certification. Frayne In this country there are five different companies that can certify any farmer or organisation as organic. They all prescribe to the regulations which have been set by IFOAM, which is the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements. If you want to be organically certified, you have to get a copy of the standards, and you have to work within those rules. The standards for organic certification are very clear to understand. You may only do certain things. You may not put certain things into your soil, and if you just live within those rules it is very easy to be organic. Mantshiu Now lastly Maggy, what benefits has this process brought you? Frayne In the field that we farm in, in medicinal herbs, our customers ask that our herbs are certified organic, because it is a guarantee of their purity. I know, because I was selling herbs before I was certified organic, that it was easier to sell them afterwards, when they were certified organic. But you must remember that certification is expensive, it can cost 5000 Rand, and it is an annual fee. You have to be inspected, and so you have got to allow for that money. But that is not the end of the world, because the certification bodies will allow groups of farmers to come together and be certified with one number, and that will cut the costs down. End of track.