As part of Amatheon Agri Zambia’s restructured Outgrower Programme, more than 110 smallholder farmers have been officially certified as Organic Quinoa Producers by the internationally recognised certification body ECOCERT South Africa (SA).
Following the growing global demand for organic food products, and with greater awareness of the benefits of organic management techniques for soil fertility, balancing ecosystems and yields, Amatheon introduced its first organic trial in Zambia last year. All carefully selected organic farmers had virgin or fallow land available, which enabled them to be immediately certified as Organic Quinoa Producers under the strict regulations of ECOCERT, whilst also continuing to grow their staple crops conventionally.
To be compliant with the organic standards, Amatheon management, Field Officers and farmers attended several organic cultivation workshops and on-site trainings, as well as on Amatheon’s premises, which were all led by an independent expert for organic cultivation and certification. Amatheon provided all project farmers with organic Quinoa and buffer zone seeds, organic fertilizers where needed, Organic Growers Notebooks, as well as facilitated the entire process of the organic certification.
Through the project, farmers gain commercially valuable knowledge and skills, and are given the opportunity to increase their incomes with a guaranteed purchase of their organic harvest. Using Amatheon’s processing, storage, and packaging facilities as a nucleus, highest organic export standards are met to further export the organic Quinoa to Europe under the ECOCERT Organic Standard (EOS) standards and to the USA pursuant to the National Organic Program (NOP) certification.
Given the success of the project and the rising demand of international markets for organic products, Amatheon Agri Zambia is currently assessing several opportunities to expand organic farming activities, not only within the Outgrower Programme but also within its commercial farming operations.