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Kazakhstan: Government Giving Organic Support


Thailand: New GMO Bill Raises Concerns


India: Sikkim to Become Organic State




Kazakhstan: Government Giving Organic Support

Kazakhstan exported organic products worth about US $5 million last year, according to Zeinulla Sharipov, head of the Economic Integration Department at Kazakhstan's Agriculture Ministry.

"Exports of such products are not limited. They are certified by foreign companies and freely sold in Europe and the US according to the requirements of these markets," Sharipov said at a roundtable on organic agriculture development in Kazakhstan on November 26. He also said that the government will give state support to organic producers in Kazakhstan and develop national standards for organic products.

"We will study the international experience for further promotion of our products on the international market. It will take a year or two, not less," he said.

The Senate of the Kazakh parliament approved the law "On production of organic products" on October 29. During the roundtable it was said that the world market of organic products is currently estimated at above $60 billion and 43 million hectares of farmland is used for organic production worldwide. Kazakhstan's Deputy Agriculture Minister Yermek Kosherbayev earlier said that there are around 30 producers of organic products in Kazakhstan, most of which are located in the northern Kostanai province.

Kazakhstan has around 300,000 hectares of organic agricultural land. At the same time, there is no exact statistical data as to the number of farms that have international certificates for organic production (some 20 enterprises have such certificates according to various estimates). According to a parliamentary committee data, organic products account for 0.1 percent of all products consumed in Kazakhstan.

Organic products produced in Kazakhstan mainly include grain and oil-bearing crops, as well as cereals, organic vodka and wine. The main obstacle to the organic market development in Kazakhstan was the absence of legislative regulation of organic production.

Related Report: #5002-40 The Asian Market for Organic Food & Drink

Source: The Times of Central Asia



Thailand: New GMO Bill Raises Concerns

Concerns have been raised over the irreparable damage that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), legalised by the cabinet-approved Biosafety Bill, could bring to local agriculture.

The bill - nicknamed the GMO bill - proposed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), has been approved by the cabinet amid protests from civic groups and governmental offices.

The bill will next come under scrutiny by the National Legislative Assemble (NLA). The bill proposes to legalise all GMO plants and animals, except those used for medicinal experiments on humans and certain animals.

The committee for the biosafety bill, chaired by the the ministry's permanent secretary, will be set up to regulate GMOs. Col Sansern Kaewkamnerd, spokesman of the Prime Minister's Office, insisted there was no objection from the cabinet when the bill was approved.

If endorsed by the NLA, it will come into effect a year after being declared in theRoyal Gazette, he said. Witoon Lianchamroon, director of Biodiversity Action Thailand, AKA BioThai, said the bill permits the agricultural use of GMO plants and animals that are proven to be safe for human health and the environment. But if the GMOs contaminate the environment, the owners don't have to take any responsibility for damages, he said.

"Small farmers whose produce will be affected by GMOs unintentionally will have to handle the burden themselves, even though their rights have been violated by the GMO producers," said Mr Witoon.

Organic farming products contaminated by GMOs won't be able to sell in the market or be exported, especially if a ban on GMOs becomes a global trend, he said. In addition, local farmers won't have rights to the new breeds of produce or animals contaminated by GMOs, if big agricultural companies hold the patents, he added.

According to a cabinet source, government officers raised concerns over the negative impacts of the bill during the hearing process. A draft of the bill had earlier been sent to various agencies for suggestions between Sept 26 and Oct 6.

The Office of the National Economics and Social Development Board (NESDB) said the bill would have consequences for various sectors, especially organic agriculture, the source said. The NESDB said encouraging GMOs will limit Thailand's capacity to develop agricultural products and narrow down its potential market share. It proposed GMO production, imports and exports be permitted on a case-by-case basis.

The NESDB also said operators should be responsible for any damages that occur if local breeds are contaminated by GMOs, to protect local agriculture. If GMO development is necessary, it should only be for experimenting with non-food ornamental products, such as orchids, in government labs, said the NESDB.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) said the eco-system was already contaminated by GMOs after Thailand legalised some imported GMOs for experiments.

The legalisation of GMOs will undermine Thailand's policy to boost organic and eco-friendly food and agricultural products, said the MoC. It urged regulations for the GMO production process, including transport, storage, packaging, labelling and documentation.

Related Article:

Eco-Labels Benefiting as GM Labelling Fight Set to Continue

Source: The Bangkok Post



India: Sikkim to Become Organic State

Sikkim will be the India's first state to produce everything from maize and rice to orchid and ginger by organic farming in 2016.

Prime minister Narendra Modi may declare Sikkim as an organic state in January after almost all agricultural land holdings are certified as free from chemicals, sources said. The states agriculture secretary Khorlo Bhutia confirmed that the prime minister has been requested to make the announcement.

There are 77,190 hectares of farmland in Sikkim where both agricultural and horticultural crops such as rice, maize, orchids, cardamom, ginger, mandarin are grown. Out of that, around 44,000 hectares are currently certified as organic while the remaining will get certified by December 31, Bhutia told Financial Chronicle.

These areas are registered with agricultural and processed food products export development authority (Apeda). The state has already enacted the Sikkim Agricultural and Horticultural Input and Livestock Feed Regulatory Act effective from January this year, which prohibits use of chemicals fertilisers, he said. Violation of the law attracts imprisonment of three months and a fine of Rs 1,000,000, he said.

We are preparing in a big way with two large shows of fruits, vegetables, spices at one place and flowers at another, for the day when it will be announced. We can now claim practicing 100 percent organic farming, he said.

"Sikkim is a small state. It is sparsely populated. But is set to become a fully organic state soon. This is a matter of pride," the prime minister had said in the Lok Sabha in June last year. There is a major demand for organic produce in the world today and people are willing to pay large sums of money for such products, he had said, while assuring that the Centre would help Sikkim make a big dent in the global market.

The state has 185 clusters where it is mandatory to hold four awareness campaigns in a year so that all farmers get the latest information on organic farming. Though maize and rice are grown in about 50,000 hectares, the main cash crops are cardamom, flowers and mandarins, Bhutia said.

It is a wrong notion that the yield drops when you start growing through organic methods. After the third year from the time you stop chemicals, the yield gradually goes up, he said.

If the state is to achieve 100 percent organic, the yield is just one aspect, Bhutia said and added that the income levels of farmers will go up, as they will get a premium for their produce. The soil health will improve and air and water will be free of chemicals, he said.

The number of tourists will go up when the state will be environmentally clean with air and water and it will also generate more employment, he said. The state government does not view the entire organic farming only through yield.


Source: Agriculture Monitor Worldwide














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