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New funds to support the organic sector

Organic Centre Wales (OCW) has succeeded in securing nearly £2M over three years for work to support the development of organic businesses in Wales.

“We are delighted to have this opportunity to do this much-needed work,” said Sue Fowler, Director of OCW. “The organic land in Wales now approaches 10% of agricultural land area, which brings many biodiversity benefits, but to ensure profitable businesses we also need inform customers what organic means. Recent market research confirms that those customers that understand the benefits of organic production are more likely to stay loyal even in hard times.”

“Organic farming is leading the way in environmental performance, but many consumers have very high expectations of organic businesses and supply chains, so this project will both help improve the environmental performance of the organic food chain and improve customers' understanding of some of the issues.”

This project is funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and will run over three years.

“We have done extensive market reviews and held many meetings with businesses to identify different elements that need work, but the success of the project will depend on the continued involvement of the organic businesses – we will form a Steering group for the project to ensure the funds are used in the most effective way and so that the project responds to the situation as it changes over time.”

OCW will be recruiting marketing expertise and a field officer, but many elements will be delivered on a project basis including: reducing energy use and the carbon impacts of organic supply chains, promoting ethical and fair trading, consumer information and media relations, improving product quality, developing new markets and addressing technical problems.

Ends

More information

Sue Fowler, Director, Organic Centre Wales, Aberystwyth University. Tel. 01970 622248, e-mail smf@aber.ac.uk.
Caryl Tudor Jones, Organic Sector Manager, Food Policy and Strategy Unit, Food, Fisheries and Market Development Division. caryl.tudorjones@cymru.gsi.gov.uk 01970 613216

Notes for the editor

1. Organic Centre Wales is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government to provide information on organic food and farming to producers, food businesses, consumers and others. It is based at Aberystwyth University and run by a partnership consisting of the ADAS, the Organic Research Centre Elm Farm, and the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwyth University.

2. The latest data show that organic farming has continued to grow fast in Wales. In 2008 the number of certified organic and in-conversion holdings and area grew to over 900 holdings on 120,000 ha, or 8% of Welsh agricultural land area. read more   

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Organic Centre Wales, IBERS, Gogerddan Campus
Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion, SY23 3EB
T:01970 622248   E: organic@aber.ac.uk
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