GEF SGP awards grant to OGCA to facilitate the certification of organic farmersSep 22, 2014
The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by UNDP awarded the Organic Growers and Consumers Association (OGCA) with a $US 50,000.00 cheque to implement the project “Organic Certification for Organic Farmers in Barbados” during the official project launch on 15 September 2014 at the Bellairs Research Institute. The project seeks to implement a national organic inspection and certification system, giving recognition to the true organic farmers in Barbados. A major output will be a minimum of ten persons trained as organic inspectors.
During the opening address President of the OGCA, John Hunte, noted that the term “organic” has become a buzz word among vendors and even conventional farmers. The term can be used as a marketing tool which can mislead consumers into purchasing non-organic products.
He stressed, “The use of the term, without any qualifying certificate of verification, undermines the value and integrity of true organic growers and the whole system by which that grower assists in sound environmental practices.”
Mr. Hunte revealed that the Barbados National Standards Institute (BNSI) has already adopted a version of organic standards based on the internationally recognized CODEX guidelines for organic farming but a system for delivery of inspections and certifications has not yet been developed.
“The system for award of a certificate of compliance also has to be above repute and therefore calls for an entity, other than OGCA to organize and conduct inspections, review inspection reports and offer a certificate with a logo and design that can used for packaging or at points of sale,” he added.
Meanwhile David Bynoe, the National Coordinator of the GEF Small Grants Programme, noted that the event marked another step in the development of local organic agriculture and coincided with the 20 year anniversary since SGP made its first grant to the organic farmers located at Codrington College, St. John.
During his speech, he outlined two major potential benefits of the initiative.
He stated that it was “a real and tangible opportunity to serve as a conduit to facilitate the protection of the environment of Barbados from the negative impacts of conventional agriculture through the promotion of organic agriculture.”
In addition it was “an opportunity to create an authentic organic industry with functional economic earning capacity that provides a double dividend of creating and saving precious foreign exchange,” he stated.
He anticipates that the initiative also has the potential to contribute in the future to major environmental, socio-economic and cultural changes. It can be viewed as a vehicle to facilitate the creation of a national phenomenon that will lead to the emergence of an organic industry in Barbados.
Other key stakeholders endorsing the programme included Ena Harvey, Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture (IICA) representative for Barbados and Management Co-ordinator for the Caribbean Region; Roosevelt King, Secretary General of the Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (BANGO); and Susan Mahon, Academic and Managing Director of the Bellairs Research Institute of McGill University (BRI).