Push for lo­cal or­ganic hub

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - BUSINESS - PAUL MIL­TON BUT­LER

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

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