What means product of organic method?
Organic agriculture is a production system that tries to make the most of the farm’s resources, emphasizing soil fertility and biological activity and, at the same time, minimizing the use of non-renewable resources and not using fertilizers and fertilizers. synthetic pesticides to protect the environment and human health. Organic agriculture involves much more than not using agrochemicals. In Central America, a great variety of organic agricultural products is being produced for export.
What are the main requirements?
There are specific requirements to certify the organic production of most crops, animals, fish farming, bee breeding, forestry activities and harvesting of wild products. The rules for organic production contain requirements related to the period of transition of the farm (time that the farm must use organic production methods before it can be certified, which is generally 2 to 3 years). Among the requirements are the selection of seeds and plant materials; the method of plant improvement; the maintenance of the fertility of the soil used and the recycling of organic materials; the method of tillage; water conservation; and the control of pests, diseases, and weeds. In addition, criteria have been established on the use of organic fertilizers and inputs for the control of pests and diseases. With respect to the production of animals, there are usually requirements on the health of the animals, their feeding, reproduction, living conditions, transportation and procedures for slaughtering them.
How to obtain certification?
The rules for organic agriculture are created mainly by private certifying agencies, but also many countries have created national standards. In Central America, the Costa Rican government has established its own rules and the other countries are in the process of creating and implementing their own, in order to support the organic agriculture sector. Europe, the United States, and Japan have national standards and if producers wish to export their products to these markets they must comply with the organic labeling requirements of importing countries.
The selection of the certifying agency is very important. The agency chosen by the producer must be officially recognized and trusted by the buyer in the importing country. National certifying agencies are often less expensive than international agencies, but may not be as well known in some foreign markets. The period of transition of the farm to obtain organic certification is sometimes expensive for the producer, since while they spend 2-3 years the product is sold at its conventional price, but the producer has to comply with the principles of production organic, which can increase your production costs and decrease your productivity, at least at the beginning. To lower the cost of certification, producers can group together and create an internal control system, as long as they meet certain requirements. In doing this, it is important that producers keep in mind that they must trust and work together since they will depend a lot on each other.
What are the main advantages and limitations?
Producers switch to organic agriculture for several reasons. Some consider that the use of synthetic agrochemicals is bad for their health and for the environment, others are attracted by the higher prices and the rapid growth of the market, for many organic products, in recent years. Organic agriculture can represent an interesting opportunity for many Central American producers and can become an important tool to improve their quality of life and income.
The change to organic agriculture may be easier and more profitable for some producers, depending on some factors such as, for example, if the farmer uses synthetic agrochemicals intensively or not, if he has access to labor (organic production it usually requires more labor), if he has access to organic fertilizers and other permitted inputs, and if he owns his land, etc.
Generally, in Central America, organic products are sold at farmer’s fairs and, more recently, in supermarkets. Despite the growing national demand, the main markets for Central American organic products are North America, Europe, and Japan. Initially, organic agriculture was mainly interested in small producers, men, and women, but with the growth of the market, some large producers have started to produce organically. This has created greater competitive pressure on prices and product quality.