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New books to help farmers go organic

FARMERS looking to diversify into organic production will find the process easier thanks to a series of books produced by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation.

The Going Organic series has been produced over the past 18 months in a project with the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The series provides conversion information for organic vegetable, rice, soybean, and livestock production.

The three books were officially launched on Friday by RIRDC's managing director Dr Peter O'Brien at the 2008 Organic Expo in Sydney.

Dr O'Brien said the three books provided practical 'how-to' information for farmers wanting to convert to organics or those already involved in organic production but wanting to diversify their businesses.

“These three books provide a framework for conversion and suggest strategies and pathways for farmers looking to make the change,” Dr O'Brien said.

“The books are the result of a series of workshops undertaken by NSW DPI, organic industry specialists and producers which identified the main problems farmers faced when trying to convert. These books aim to help farmers clear some of those hurdles.

“Organic products are the fastest growing food sector in the world. The Australian sector is worth between $250 million and $400 million per year at retail level and demand continually outstrips supply.

“Domestic production is increasing at between six and 15 per cent per annum and consumption is growing by between 25 and 40 per cent, with the deficit filled by imports.

“Globally the growth rate is between 10 and 30 per cent a year. The US Department of Agriculture forecasts the industry to be worth $100 billion by 2010 in the US, Europe and Japan.”

Dr O'Brien said these growth rates were prompting more and more farmers to consider organic methods, and many were seeking more information on how to make the conversion.

The Going Organic series is available online at www.rirdc.gov.au.



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