Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

APEN 2001 International Conference

Toowoomba, 4th-5th October 2001

Report No:


Title of Topic:

How to Support Conversion Processes to Organic Agriculture?

Name of Leader:

Irene Visser

Names of Participants:

John Day, Christine King, Mark Collins, David Kennedy, Bob Armstrong, Ed Colless, Paul O’Hare, Jane Fisher, Irene Visser, Darren Moor, Linda Harely, Noel Ainsworth, Margaret Cruickshank

Main points of discussion

The group discussed inspired by two questions:

1. How can you support farmers in conversion to organic agriculture in technical, commercial and organisational aspects?

2. How to work with the other actors in the supply chain?

To support conversion to organic agriculture, a new box of knowledge and skills is needed, which combine, commercial, technical, and knowledge on how to integrate into the market chain

On the basis of experiences of the organic domestic and export production of grapes, wine, macadamia, chickens, pigs, beef, kiwis from Australia, New Zealand and Chile we identified issues and questions that need to be explored

Differentiation Of Organic Production And Trends In Quality And Eco Standards

  • Change in the past from only organic to organic amongst other environmental friendly quality systems.
  • Differences between conventional and organic systems become less extreme, as integrated systems are evolving.
  • Differences and similarities between environmental and quality standards and organic standards, Eco-labels, ISO 14000 series, OHS (Occupational Health Series), good agricultural practices. Sometimes difficult for consumer to differentiate these different guidelines and labels.
  • Organic quality is only one out of other features such as energy efficiency, workplace practices, packaging, QA, greenhouse and product safety.

Market Information And Premium Prices

  • What are the (market) advantages of producing organically, vs. other options?
  • Some farmers that started of organically stopped producing organically because no longer market advantages. Other sell their organic products on the conventional market. Other farmers are 95
  • organically, but don’t make the effort to certify their product as such.
  • What are market opportunities in Europe and Asia, and where to get information on that?
  • Do the marketing departments of DPI or organic organizations provide the right information? For example on the long term, the energy inputs in transport from Australia to Europe might be a concern for European consumers or importers, so Asia might be a better option.


Farmers still are motivated to produce organically, taking into account the efforts need to convert? At least two years needed to certify.


Need to have certification rules applicable in Australian situation and not importing rules from Europe.


There are lists of chemical inputs, but not always clear which inputs are allowed.

GMO Agriculture

  • Concerns about GMO for our health and concerns about the development of GMO agriculture in which a lot of science is invested.
  • Danger of having an image as a country in support of GMO for the organic produce. For exports producers have to prove that they are not infected by GMO influences.

Major outcomes (what have you achieved from this discussion; how can this make a difference; what else do you need to do?)

  • Conversion is not only change of production it is a change of total system.
  • In conversion processes there are a lot of unknowns.
  • Need to acquire diversity of skills necessary to support the conversion process.
  • Need for organic industry to organise themselves and demand for extension and research.
  • Need to find ways in which government or private industry can support or sponsor the conversion.
  • Some examples, some farmer groups in Chile subsidised by government in projects to be able to pay experts or managers, expert modules in IPM management, successful project with poultry in Eastern Downs, in New Zealand strong successful links with research and industry.
  • Research need into organic management systems in different circumstances.
  • Business focus needed in developing organic products and projects.
  • Supply chain management needed.
  • Need to find ways for the broad acre industry to produce organically
  • Learning useful techniques from home remedies.

Previous PageTop Of PageNext Page