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Farmers shown massive potential of organics

11 October 2001

Attention Rural / Agriculture Reporter

Farmers shown massive potential of organics

Green MP Ian Ewen-Street today said new figures showed the huge potential of organics both to produce high yields and prices for farmers willing to convert to organic production.

Results from two seasons of cropping at Kowhai Farm - an organic farm set up between Lincoln University and Heinz Wattie - showed yields higher than the average for conventional crops.

Mr Ewen-Street said these figures are all the more impressive given that the site of this farm was chosen because the soil had been previously degraded by years of conventional farming.

"The Greens are pleased to see Heinz Watties telling farmers of the huge economic potential of organics and we welcome Heinz's offer to farmers to help them through the conversion to organic production," he said.

Bruce Snowden, Agricultural Systems Manager for Heinz is reported as saying:

'In Japan we could sell five to 10 times as much [organic produce]... In the United States we're doubling sales every year, but you've got to stop if you haven't got the product... In Japan, premiums [for organic products] are about 20 per cent. It's been like that for 10 years and they still want more... We've not seen any evidence of premiums dying away in 10 years, and we've had a lot of growth in that time.'

"This is exactly what the Greens have been saying for years. Farmers and the nation generally are sitting on a huge opportunity which could completely invigorate our agricultural sector.

"Until now farmers have recognised the benefits of organic production but have been slow to commit to change. Figures as reported by Heinz Watties should leave any wavering farmers in no doubt whatsoever," he said.

"The Greens urge farmers to look carefully at the benefits of switching to organics but we also urge them to consider why organics is the way of the future.

"People around the world are increasingly distrustful of the food they eat with growing awareness over pesticides, herbicides, genetic engineering and the terrible treatment of some animals.

"New Zealand, with our clean green reputation is perfectly positioned to be the world's producer of the cleanest, greenest, safest food. All we need is for farmers to recognise it and make the change," said Mr Ewen-Street.

"There is no place for genetic engineering in this vision and there is no place whatsoever for genetic engineering in organic production."


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