The organic farming industry could provide 100 000 jobs within the next seven years through the Organic Freedom Project (OFP), a newly established non-profit organisation focused on helping developing farmers to farm organically.
Heinrich of the said the project is currently focusing on Levubu in Limpopo but has plans to expand to the Lowveld, KwaZulu- Natal and the Eastern Cape. Anglo Coal, who are co-sponsoring the together with Pick ‘n Pay, stated that this project will create new jobs for miners after mine closures and retirement.
Anglo Coal’s unused land, among other land, will be used for organic farming. The mining company identified farming as a means to ensure job creation and the development of entrepreneurs. As far as crops are concerned, the will mainly focus on soya, alternating with canola and sunflower, said. The oil produced by the soya will be used by Pick ‘n Pay for diesel trucks that the company hope to implement in the near future. The rest of the soya oil will be used for bioparaffin, which will be sold through Pick ‘n Pay. Soya will also be used to create textile fibres, which will be transformed into clothing and sold in this chain store. The remains of the soya will be used as cattle feed. The OFP has also discussed the possibility of brewing organic beer with South African Breweries.
Organic farmer Tim Jackson, however, warned that this project is a recipe for disaster. “It took me 65 years to become an organic farmer,” he said, pointing out the fact that the OFP wanted to train developing farmers in a much shorter period of time. But Schultz said it’s easier to teach upcoming farmers how to farm organically than established farmers. “We’re trying to develop farmers who aren’t stuck in a rut with their ideas of farming.” He added that the wants to help all farmers.
Another point of concern raised by Jackson was the fact that existing farmers will probably be at the losing end of this deal. “If Pick ‘n Pay wish to go organic, then I suggest they get proactive in supporting the existing farmers,” Jackson said. owever, Ernst Kloklow, general manager of Organics SA, believed this project could be wonderful for the whole organic farming industry. He said this will not take anything away from any SA organic farmers, but rather add to their benefits. When faced with a local oversupply farmers will always be able to export, Kloklow said. – Susan Botes