Food for Thought

Time indeed flies very fast, the 1st half of the year is nearly over, reflecting on the Organic Farming situation in Malaysia. How far has the market developed – is there any new development at all? Are we happy with the level of consciousness (no doubt there is an increase of awareness) generated among the consumers? Do our organic farmers solely produce to supply and are content /complacent as marketing is not an issue? What about the wholesalers and retail shops – are they doing enough to address the nagging issue of the plight of the farmers, especially the small-scale farmers?

I still like to insist that we are not moving forward, even though we are made to believe so, just because many farmers, especially the contracted ones and the financially able ones, found their supply could meet the market demand. Yes, overall, the organic market is moving, the self claimed organics and certified organic produce are in demand. But do we just stop there? Years in years out, in all Organic Farming seminars/conferences organized, we kept addressing the same old issues such as land tenure, marketing, labour shortage, government support, technical know-how and certification process with futile result.

It is very frustrating and sad that after nearly 30 years, the consumers are still asking if the organic vegetables/fruits they purchased were genuinely organic. Many are cynical of the ‘My Organic Certification’ (formerly known as SOM). In fact, many people are not even aware of the ‘My Organic Certification’s’ existence. Thus, there is more to be done. We need concerted efforts from all the stakeholders to work together to lobby the MOA (Ministry of Agriculture) and other related government agencies to take organic farming more seriously. The DOA (Dept. of Agri.) must not stay aloof but be more proactive and willing to work together with all stakeholders/NGOs to bring Organic Farming to a greater height. By the way, Organic Farming is not even mentioned in the 11th Malaysia Plan!

CETDEM just hopes that the organic sectors including the producers/farmers could be more proactive if they want to see organic produce reach to larger masses. In order for the market to expand, all the organic sectors must work together to promote greater awareness on the importance of organic farming/food and more importantly address issues affecting the consumers and farmers as well as raising awareness on how climate change would have an effect on agriculture.

CETDEM has for years organized various activities such as public forums, seminars, Hari Organik and Farmer’s Corner etc to address various issues affecting consumers and farmers, providing opportunities to the organic business sectors to promote their products and home gardening. However, for the market to develop rapidly, we need the commitments and participation of all organic stakeholders to actively take part in events that are organized by CETDEM and others.

Last but not least, our earnest hope is to see the public, our supporters and members of the OF Project continue supporting us, as without their kind support and generosity, it will be tough for us to sustain our activities.

Hence, I end with wishing our Muslim members/friends a Meaningful and Fruitful Ramadan!

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