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Daff Organic Working Party Release Initial Findings 12 November 2007

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) initiated Organic Working Party (OWP) has released an interim report which suggests the Organic food sector will have a retail value of £2.6million within 5 years.

The OWP is a team of farming, processing and consumer representatives which DAFF established in spring 2007. Its role was not to consider whether Organic systems are better or worse than conventional farming systems but simply to acknowledge that a significant minority of consumers, both on and off the Island are buying Organic products and to consider if these products could be profitably produced on the Isle of Man.

Agriculture Minister Phil Gawne MHK, said: ‘I welcome this report which demonstrates that Organic food is an important high value sector, which could be substantially supplied by local producers. The team have been very excited to realise the scale of opportunity this sector represents, however we have also identified some barriers which need to be addressed to facilitate the growth of Organic production.’

Mr Gawne continued “The team believe it is essential that proper traceability is adopted throughout the Organic food chain if we are to ensure that the public’s expectations are met and therefore propose full certification at each stage of the food chain. They are also looking for extra training and advice to be available to help farmers adopt the quite different management skills that are required, so DAFF have already arranged some very successful horticultural workshops.”

It has also been suggested that a cohesive strategy for marketing Manx organic produce should be developed and ideally co-ordinated by the industry, possibly through a producer co-operative. It was stressed that the marketing should be complementary with the overlapping ‘local’ food market.

This interim report represents a summary of the OWP’s fact finding process to date, which has been released to ask stakeholders whether they agree with the facts and perspective established. Similarly their views on omissions and areas for further consideration are sought. Once the OWP has received feedback on this report, it will then proceed to establish an action plan early in 2008.

A large cross sector of individuals and groups involved in food production and retailing are being given the opportunity to comment on the standards and their application on the Island. Anyone seeking to make comments should contact Viv Davies, Chair of the OWP on viv.davies@manx.net or OWP@gov.im no later than 16 November 2007.

Copies of the interim report are available from DAFF at Rose House on 685838, or can be downloaded from http://www.gov.im/daff/Consultations/organicwp.xml.

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