The Organic Advisory Programme was off the a good start recently with the Organic Road Show's tour of the lower South Island drawing an encouraging response said Organic Aotearoa NZ (OANZ) executive director Ken Shirley.
Good turnout in Gore "On a wet, cold Friday evening, more than 120 enthusiastic people packed into a meeting room at the Gore Civic Centre, intent on finding out more about the certified organic option," Mr Shirley wrote in the OANZ newsletter.
He and the advisory programme's southern co-ordinator, Holger Kahl held a series of meetings in Timaru, Oamaru, Dunedin, Cromwell and Gore.
Regions varied "Through Central Otago, there was keen interest from pipfruit, summerfruit and wine producers, whereas the Gore meeting was dominated by sheep and beef producers."
With certified organic lamb fetching up to $6.50/kg (double the payout of non-organic
lamb), there is a strong incentive to pursue the certified organic option, he said.
Expensive and scary to some Despite interest in organics around NZ, many conventional farmers see conversion as an expensive and scary option, said Mr Shirley.
"The costs are often over emphasised, and the benefits understated. There are entrenched prejudices against organic production systems. We intend to dispel the myths and break down those prejudices."
Keen to convert The advisory programme's Smart Start service enables farmers and growers who are wondering whether to go organic to have an on farm consultation process at a cost of only $200.
"Smart Start will show producers the door into New Zealand's organic future. Those we've met with so far are keen to walk through it."
The road show will tour the Far North, Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty later this month.
More on Smart Start and the Organic Advisory Programme.