With markets for organic produce booming, African farmers and other stakeholders gather to discuss reaping the benefits

14 October 2015

Farmers, researchers, academics, policy makers, entrepreneurs and representatives of African organic movements gathered at the Third African Organic Agriculture Conference, in Lagos, Nigeria, 5-9 October 2015.

The growing importance of organic agriculture to Africa was on display as the Third African Organic Agriculture Conference gathered more than 300 participants from all over Africa and beyond in Lagos, Nigeria from 5 to 9 October 2015 around the theme of "Achieving social and economic development through ecological and organic agricultural alternatives".

The organic sector has experienced fast growth in Africa in recent years, driven by its positive environmental impact, interest in healthier nutrition and the emergence of a middle class with higher income levels.

During the conference, farmers, researchers, academics, policy makers, entrepreneurs and representatives of African organic movements shared experiences, lessons learned and development prospects with representatives from international organizations such as the African Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, and UNCTAD.

Key issues raised during the conference included:

  • Design and implementation of public policies to support the organic agriculture sector
  • Updated African research on the organic agriculture sector
  • Value chain development
  • Financing
  • Women's and youth empowerment

UNCTAD staff intervened in sessions on "Organic Agriculture Prospects" and "Marketing Organic Products in Africa" and also took part in the closing panel of the event.

In addition, two studies commissioned by UNCTAD were presented to conference participants. The first focused on the linkages between organic agriculture and the tourism sectors in Laos and Tanzania. The second was a recent study on the potential of regional agro-food value chains to enhance intra-African trade.

The final declaration of the conference recognized the need to remove trade barriers within the continent in order to support the development of organic agriculture. UNCTAD is working on a policy brief outlining many of the issues faced by organic agriculture development in Africa, to be issued in 2016.