Push for local organic hub
THE newly-elected president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements has called for government assistance to help make the Douglas region a world leader in the field.
Daintree farmer Andre Leu, who is also the chairman of the Organic Federation of Australia, said it was “ridiculous” organic sugar is being imported into Australia at five times the cost the rest of the world is paying for it.
“We have perfectly capable sugar growers here and with some help they could become truly organic and increase their yield as well,” Mr Leu said.
“There are a whole range of foods we can easily grow in our region for the certified organic food markets here and overseas.”
Mr Leu said organic farming ploughed $1 billion into the Australian economy last year, with the global value of certified organic market sales estimated at around $60 billion.
He said the Douglas region was ideal for growing many organic foods but farmers needed government assistance to help get started and be shown the benefits.
“I am interested in promoting the multi-functional benefits of organic systems and food in terms of health, climate change, biodiversity, small farmers, feeding the world, resilience, soil improvement, water use efficiency and poverty alleviation,” he said.
“At the moment there are absolutely no programs at all to help growers for what is a very sustainable and ’clean crop’.
“Our latest research shows us that people do want organic foods, in fact 61 per cent of people today are buying organic foods.
“They are concerned about pesticide residues in foods and there is strong evidence that organic foods provide more nutrients and antioxidants to the body and can help to reduce heart disease and relieve the symptoms of arthritis.
“We need more organic farmers using natural designed farms to increase the health and fertility of the soil and we can help them achieve this.
“There is a way to show farmers how to be weaned off these chemicals and how to grow their crops naturally.”
Mr Leu, who has 39 years experience in organic agriculture, will use his position to lobby governments around the world for greater support of the industry.
He also conducts workshops and gives presentations on organic food production.
Organic vision: Andre Leu