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Organic Advisory Programme Ends

Organic Advisory Programme Ends

Press Release
Embargoed Until: 12.01am, 30 June 2009

The Organic Advisory Programme managed by Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) is scheduled to conclude on 30 June, after successfully providing critical information to a swiftly growing sector.

The three-year advisory programme operated on a total of $2.1 million, as agreed between the Green Party and the previous government, and administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

OANZ Chief Executive officer, Dr Jon Tanner, said that the Organic Advisory Programme has encouraged farmers into conversion to organics, and provided access to the knowledge required to grow a high performing, high-value sector.

"For New Zealand's primary sector to remain ahead of our international competition, it is essential that research findings are disseminated from laboratories and classrooms to woolsheds and fields", Dr Tanner said.

"Technological advances are just as crucial to the organic sector as to conventional producers. Organic farms offer innovative ways to reduce chemical inputs, decrease negative environmental impacts of farming, and add value to products through systems with demonstrable traceability, integrity and safety.

"The Organic Advisory Programme has coordinated 150 on-farm Smart Start consultations, where farmers receive the information they need to make an informed decision about whether to convert to organics.

"Two thirds of those who received Smart Start consultations are now in conversion to certified organic production.

"The Organic Advisory Programme has also made nearly $880,000 available to thirty smaller regional, sector and other projects, enabling small organic groups to identify and provide their own extension activities.

"OANZ would like to see the knowledge network established through the Organic Advisory Programme maintained.

"Without coordination of the network, stronger groups may continue with the backing of their industry bodies, but others won't fare so well. Newer or smaller groups still need assistance to help them form networks", Dr Tanner said.

As an interim measure from 1 July, organic extension will be available through some producer groups, with access to information available through OANZ's 0800 FUTURE information line and website.

ENDS


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