ManjoNamibia elected to IFOAM vice-presidency

WINDHOEK – Namibian organic farmer Manjo Smith has been elected vice president of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) at the just ended organisation's general assembly in Istanbul, Turkey.

Smith is the Chairperson of the Namibia National Association of Horticultural Producers (NAHOP), and owner of Greenspot Organics in Okahandja.

IFOAM is an international umbrella organisation for the organic world, uniting close to 800 affiliates in 118 countries. The organisation actively participates in international agricultural and environmental negotiations with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations and other multilateral institutions to further the interests of the organic agricultural movement worldwide.

According to the latest global statistics, there are 1.9 million certified organic farmers in 164 countries producing food on 37.5 million hectares of land.

The global market for organic food is worth US$63.8 billion and the global trend remains positive with a constant consumer demand increase.
"In Namibia, this international trend of demand outstripping supply is evident, households are looking for healthier and more sustainable options, especially in the light of serious questions being raised regarding contribution of the environmental degradation of conventional farming, the health hazards presented with the use of pesticides, herbicides and the use of genetically-modified organisms or GMOs," she said.
Smith, who is the first Namibian to achieve this status, has served as IFOAM World Board Member since 2011. She is a founder member of the Namibian Organics Association and has held the position of Chairperson for the past five years.

A tireless champion for organic food production, Smith formed part of a team that spearheaded the very first 'Sustainable Ecological Crop and Horticulture' conference held in Okahandja for large-scale commercial producers and in Rundu for small-scale horticulture producers in August of 2013.

Smith's term ends in 2017 and would support the organisation president Andre Leu from Australia, working with fellow eight vice presidents from China, Costa Rica, India, Germany, Peru, Switzerland, Spain, and USA.

As vice-president of IFOAM, Smith's task will be to support the development of organic agricultural practices and policy on a global scale.
"I am very honoured and privileged to serve the international organic sector. The most important aspect in serving in this role is to drive the development of broad-based knowledge of organic farming at an institutional level, and then to implement modern, innovative and scientific organic farming methods at a production level," said Smith.

"In addition to producing food responsibly and sustainably, organic agriculture holds solutions for conserving and restoring our natural resources. It is the core around which sustainable agriculture can be built, stable human societies can be secured, and healthy ecological systems can be maintained. Organic farming offers one of the best solutions to the negative impact of climate change, and this agricultural approach is critical to Namibia's vision for sustainable agriculture and food security," she said.

By Deon Schlechter

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