How Switzerland invests in organic farming in Central Asia
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Jalal-Abad, a major city located in the western part of Kyrgyzstan, close to the Uzbek border, held a forum on organic products within the BioCotton project on the 28th and 29th of September, announced The Times of Central Asia. Local and foreign experts, representatives of state bodies, international and donor organizations attended the event. The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) together with HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation (HSI) and the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (Hivos) initiated the Organic Cotton Production and Trade Promotion Project in Kyrgyzstan in 2003. The Swiss government, partnered up with Bio Farmer Agricultural Commodity and Service Cooperative, Bio Service Public Foundation, and the Federation of Organic Development. The purpose of the project was to: “To promote organic farming in Central Asia and the trade of organic cotton and other organic products in international and domestic markets, allowing interested farmers to make their living”, as the site Helvetas-Swiss Intercooperation explains.
The informative evening laid down the results of the project, in order to discuss socio-economic and environmental aspects of organic farming. The idea of organic agriculture rests on balancing economic profit with the sustainable management of natural resources. This has become a quite recent way of farming.
The project focuses mainly on the production of organic cotton. It has three stages. The first one, from 2003 until 2006, was permitted to establish a value chain. Later on, during the second phase from 2007 to 2011 a Public Union for organic farmers along with a Public Fund Bio Service, was established to stabilize the value chain. The third stage, from 2012 until 2016, is about widening the network of organics in central Asia in order to support the local market development. In 2016, the projects account for over 1,200 members and 2,500 hectares of organic land.