Seychelles to standardize, certify organic food products in bid to protect consumers

Fresh organic farmers market fruit and vegetable on display

SEYCHELLES – The government of Seychelles through the National Biosecurity Agency is seeking to introduce standards and legislation to govern marketing of organic products.

According to reports by Seychelles News Agency, the organic products will need to be certified under new legislation being worked on by the National Biosecurity Agency.

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The move follows rising concerns that some products are termed to be organic and they are not, so as to fetch higher prices compared to regular products.

“Farmers declare their farms to be organic without going through any system. So we will develop a programme which will set out the standards to gain such accreditation.”

Chief Executive of National Biosecurity Agency – Marc Naiken

The chief executive of the Agency, Marc Naiken said “We have been approached on different occasions in regards to farmers who are selling their goods as organic and asked what are the standards being used for this. This showed a deficiency in the agricultural sector which we needed to address.”

Organic food is the product of a farming system which avoids the use of man-made fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives.

Many countries have implemented standards, regulations and certification of organic farming and organic food.

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“Farmers declare their farms to be organic without going through any system. So we will develop a programme which will set out the standards to gain such accreditation,” said Naiken.

The news has been welcomed by the Seychelles Farmers Association and the chairperson, Andre Sopha, who said that while it is important to set up standards and legislation, the government needs to ensure that the perfect environment and necessary tools are available in the country to practice organic farming.

The Agency has recruited a local consultant, Evelyn Drawec, a specialist with experience on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic standard, to work on the certification system.

“I have been working in organic certification primarily in the United States… I see Seychelles as being well set up to have an organic programme.

“A lot of the techniques that are prioritised in organics, such as crop rotation, diversity of crops on the farm and natural inputs, are being used by all around Seychelles so it will be easy to transition to organic methods,” said Drawec.

Provision to draft the legislation was endorsed by the Seychelles’ Cabinet of Ministers last week in a meeting chaired by President Danny Faure and work will take around two years to finalise.

Meanwhile, the British supermarket chain Tesco has threatened to stop sourcing yellowfin tuna and billfish from the Indian Ocean due to failures to manage the overfished stock in the region.

To prevent this from happening, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), of which Seychelles is a member country, needs to adopt a recovery plan for rebuilding stocks in their next meeting, the supermarket chain said.

In a statement on their website, Tesco stated that tuna presents one of the biggest challenges in terms of sustainability. Within the chain, yellowfin is sold as frozen or chilled steaks whereas skipjack goes into cans and sandwiches.

“IOTC’s existing fishery management practices have proved ineffective and robust recovery plans have not been set. Without these, declining tuna populations threaten to impact the entire marine ecosystem.

“Should the member states at the meeting fail to agree a credible and effective recovery plan to rebuild the population within two generations, Tesco will stop sourcing tuna and billfish from the Indian Ocean for our Own Brand supply until such a plan is adopted,” stated Tesco.

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