The ESCAP project has conducted seven country studies and one Asia regional
synthesis study to assess the current status and socio-economic potential
of organic agriculture in the region. The project aims to enhance government
support for organic farming and strengthen cooperation between
governmental and non-governmental organizations by documenting,
disseminating and exchanging existing experiences with organic
farming in and among selected countries in Asia.
was held in Chiang Mai,
Thailand, from 26-29 November 2001 to share and discuss the results of
the national and regional studies, to formulate recommendations regarding
government strategies to promote organic farming and to strengthen
cooperation between governments, research institutions and
non-governmental organizations in the field of organic agriculture.
The workshop was being organized in cooperation with the Earth Net Foundation,
Thailand and was financially supported by the Government of the Netherlands.
here for the official workshop report.
To date, rural poverty alleviation remains a priority issue in most countries
of the Asian and Pacific region. Important in this respect is the enhancement
of rural employment and income generation. The recent financial crisis in
Asia has increased the burden on rural areas to (re)absorb labourers who
lost employment in urban centres. A potential strategy to increase
rural employment as well as enhance livelihood options for rural
families is the development of opportunities in organic agriculture.
Organic agriculture has shown to help improve soil conditions and farm health for
small farms. It may provide for a diversified income base through
diversification of crops, and uses more labour compared to conventional
agricultural methods i.e. for planting, strip-farming, non-chemical
weeding and composting. Besides, processing and marketing of organic
agricultural products could create new off-farm rural employment
opportunities, especially when lucrative export markets can be accessed.
Until the early 1990s, organic agriculture remained a relatively rare
phenomenon with less than 1% of farmers involved in most countries.
Production, marketing and consumption of organic agricultural produce
depended heavily on private initiatives. Over the last decade, organic
agriculture has seen a considerable boost particularly in developed
countries. Also in many developing countries in Asia, small and medium
scale initiatives have been undertaken to advance organic farming.
However, government support has remained limited.
National governments can play an important role in encouraging the adoption
of organic agriculture in developing countries, particularly in the following
areas: research and development, education and extension into organic
agriculture methods, legalization and certification for organic
produce, pricing policies for agricultural input and output,
land-tenure, and export promotion.