Conference highlights prosperity for organic businesses in Wales
The organic sector in Wales has been injected with a sense of encouragement and prosperity following innovative talks and workshops held at this year's Organic Centre Wales conference.
The theme of the 'Organic : Better Business' conference centred on improving business performance within the organic sector in Wales and the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability, as well as food security and business co-operation. The conference built on elements of the Better Organic Business Link project which Organic Centre Wales is running on behalf of the organic sector.
The conference allowed participants to meet with other producers and major organic stakeholders to explore opportunities of working together and to potentially save money and increase the fitness of their businesses.
Sue Fowler, Director of Organic Centre Wales, chaired the conference. The conference also heard from sector experts such as Helen Browning, Director of the Soil Association, representatives from Menter a Busnes and Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and European Programmes, Alun Davies.
Speaking at the conference, the Deputy Minister said: “The Welsh Government has a long history of providing support to organic farmers through the Organic Farming Conversion Scheme, the Better Organic Business Links project and the Farming Connect scheme, which are all helping farmers to deliver products of excellent quality as the True Taste awards recognised this year.
“Organic farming is a growing industry in Wales, with 8.5% of Welsh farmland now being farmed organically compared to 4.5% across the UK. An increasing number of farmers are recognising the added value that organic food can bring as well as the environmental benefits and I am pleased that the Welsh Government is supporting them to do this."
Sue Fowler said: “Throughout the day participants embraced the opportunity to share ideas and best practices with other organic businesses. The main purpose of the conference was achieved as participants explored new concepts to help their organic businesses to thrive.
“The day-long conference was full of lively discussion, great food and stimulating company.”
The morning session comprised of four parallel workshops, designed for participants to take a closer look at their businesses and to explore areas of development. The topics of the four workshops included: 'Choosing your outlets', 'How to stay in business', 'Different farming models' and 'Managing internal parasites in organic systems'.
Lunch was comprised of an organic buffet with a selection of organic and local ingredients at the heart of the menu.
Three parallel workshops titled 'EU policies and perspectives'; 'Securing our food supply' and 'Selling organic' ran in the afternoon session.
For more information call OCW on 01970 622248 or visit www.organiccentrewales.org.uk
For more information please contact Lara Hallett at MGB PR on 01792 460200
Notes for editors:
1. OCW is the national resource for consumers, farmers and policy makers committed to more sustainable food and farming in Wales. Based at Aberystwyth University and run by a partnership consisting of the ADAS, the Organic Research Centre Elm Farm, and Aberystwyth University. See www.organiccentrewales.org.uk.
2. BOBL is an Organic Centre Wales project and has received funding through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. The project is designed to support the primary producer in Wales and grow the market for Welsh organic produce in a sustainable way. The project is developing new, emerging and existing markets for organic produce whilst driving innovation, at all levels, within the supply chain. The overall aim is to support a thriving Welsh organic sector so that the benefits of WG investment in the Organic Farming Scheme to generate agri-environmental benefits, and in the Welsh Organic Action Plan to support rural development and sustainable food production, can be fully realised.
3. The Organic Conversion Information Service is funded by the Welsh Government to provide information to producers, to enable them to make an informed decision on whether to change to organic management and certification – the helpline, an information pack and up to three free on-farm visits are available. Contact the OCW helpline on: 01970 622100.
4. A window of application for the OFCS 2012 is open between 3 October and 4 November 2011. It will support land starting conversion between 2 January 2011 and 1 January 2012. Applications must be supported by a conversion plan, and you may be eligible for further assistance in the preparation of this plan through OCIS. Contact the OCW Helpline on 01970 622100 for details.