The organic umbrella group, Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) has been to the fore in New Zealand organics since being set up in 2005.
OANZ was launched with vision of the members paddling together in the one big vessel, all heading in the same direction. The organisationc Bio Gro, Soil and Health, the Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association, the Organic Products Exporters of NZ (OPENZ), Organic Farm NZ, Te Waka Kai Ora, Agriquality and affiliates from the Organic Dairy Producers Group and the Certified Organic Kiwifruit Association.
From paddock to plate
“This significant milestone for New Zealand’s organic sector is intended to encompass all of organics in New Zealand, from the paddock to the plate, from exporters, researchers, certifiers, educators and community initiatives through to consumers,” said Tauranga organic kiwifruit grower Doug Voss, the inaugural chairperson.
OANZ’s job has been to steer the $140 million organic sector safely through the next phase of its development.
A key aim is ensuring New Zealand is recognized nationally and internationally as a world leader in organic systems practice, knowledge and products.
According to OANZ, the oncoming wave of development will be a critical time for the industry, which at 2007 figures, is worth $310 million to New Zealand, $120 million of that through export.
At its 2005 launch OANZ said of the next phase of growth,”We have been there before, but each time we come to the next level the size of the move is greater.”
A range of organizations represent aspects of organics at different levels.
“All these organizations, from small committees to well run dynamic growth entities have helped make the sector what it is today, an important part of the New Zealand economy and social fabric,” said OANZ.
OANZ said the sector faced the largest wave of growth and development it had seen and along with that, challenge from outside the sector.
OANZ’s job is to pull the various organic interests together to ensure that the sector receives sufficient government funding and backing.
“The other main threat to the sector is of its own success, and not being able to paddle fast enough to catch the wave, thus allowing others to catch and in fact ride the wave we have created — with no regards to the base tenants that underpin the sector.”
OANZ said the paddling had been taking many forms, paddling separately in small vessels, paddling in different directions, not knowing others were even paddling and so on.
Many in the non organic production field saw the sector as a threat to long established marketing campaigns - as has been documented in meat and horticulture journals — and also to research efforts.
They were “paddling straight at us while we are heads down and bums up paddling.”
The new vessel, OANZ, would be one in which the whole sector could ride, with a lookout and a navigator, but would still enable those paddling to arrive at their individual destinations “having enjoyed the ride of their lives.”
It would be up to the sector to ensure the vessel was strong enough, and able to guide them confidently along the oncoming wave of growth.
The organization’s structure would allow for new member organizations to join up as the ride develops. Its job would be to facilitate information sharing, course setting and co-ordination — not doing all the paddling but leading the chant, said OANZ.
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