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Quebec moves to develop organic farming


A strategic plan for organic agricultural development in Quebec, presented by the firm of Radius Publicité Promotion Inc., was accepted by the members of the province's Round Table on Organic Farming.

The final report was tabled in June 1994, with only one representative group dissenting, the (Organisation Canadien Internationale des producteurs biologique???) OCIPB. Notwithstanding, the document passed the test of linguistic revision and is now available for farmers who want to participate in the proposed actions. The report was distributed in mid-September to all certified organic producers and the Round Table has set up a process to receive producer comments.

The document is divided into three sections. In the first section is a description of the current situation of organic farming. Underlining some passages with observations and actual situations, a parallel is made between sustainable agriculture and organic farming. It demonstrates that the latter is a route towards sustainable agriculture, but goes farther to protect the environment by eliminating all chemical and synthetic products, an agriculture that promotes living organisms. It is these differences that help to clearly differentiate organic farming from sustainable agriculture, according to the document.

A little farther, illustrations are used to show the growing importance of organic production in Quebec:

525 certified producers

16 types of production

13,000 hectares cultivated

$20 million in agricultural sales of certified products

1.4% of agricultural producers in Quebec.

The value of processed organic products is around $18 million in 1993, compared to $5 million five years ago. Retail sales equaled $35 million in 1993, versus $9 million five years ago. About 75% of these sales are processed products and 25% are fresh products. Finally, 84% of all these products are imported.

Quebec's consumption of organic produce is limited, around 1% of food consumption.

In the document, four groups of potential consumers are identified. The first, obviously, are those who already consume organic products; to increase sales in this category, a better grouping of produce was recommended, along with the provision of more information.

A second category, consisting of younger, well-educated and more environmentally conscious people, should be targeted by a study, as well as a third category, consisting of older persons, those in poorer health and open to the benefits of healthier food.

Finally, the fourth category, an extremely important group of consumers, who seek out healthy products, ones that do not cause allergies, are sugarless, and cholesterol-free.

In the second section, the document analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the organic agri-food sector. Many of the recommendations on production, processing, certification, distribution, and consumption are very relevant.

If the strategic recommendations presented in this part of the document are applied by the members of the Round Table on Organic Farming, the following results can be predicted, according to the document:

a rise in sales volume of approximately $15 million over the next three years, and a 50% increase in the number of certified biological producers (reaching 750 by 1997.)

Those producers in transition towards organic farming could bring the number to 5,000 by the same date, and a substantial increase in the number of processors, from 37 to 75, could be experienced within the next 3 years, along with a proportional increase in retail sales points and an improved visibility for organic products.

Last August, the members of the Round Table hired the consulting firm Radius to write an executive summary of the strategic plan. The executive summary will be used by the members of the Round Table to establish their priorities for development and focus on concrete action for the coming year.


Reprinted from Bio-Bulle, August-September 1994


Copyright © 1994 REAP Canada

Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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