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SA farmers encouraged to sign up for a ‘Greener World’

International food labelling organisation

More and more people want to know where their food comes from and how it is produced.

Meander Chronicle Reporter

Going green, being sustainable, being kind and supporting local – these are buzzwords more and more people are striving to live by.

One of the easiest ways for farmers to prove they are sustainable and adhering to good animal welfare practices, is via trusted food labelling. Introducing A Greener World (AGW), an internationally renowned, meaningful and trusted food label that operates as a non-profit organisation and has recently launched in South Africa.

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Tozie Zokufa, the organiser’s executive director, says many farmers are too busy and believe it will be too much admin to qualify. They do not realise how worthwhile it is, in terms of growing their customer base and improving animal welfare standards and sustainability on their farm.

How is livestock reared? AGW animal welfare certification means animals must be raised outdoors on pasture or range, without common industry practices such as teeth-clipping, tail-docking, dehorning or beak-trimming. Picture: Christina Abken on Unsplash

“In my experience, there are many ethical farmers who would only need to make a few small changes to their practices to be able to sign onto this programme,” he says. “For these farmers, A Greener World (AGW) certification is an easy and accessible way to communicate this to consumers looking for reliable food labelling. AGW certification guarantees a farmer’s commitment to ethical and sustainable practices and makes it easy for sophisticated consumers to trust – and choose – their products.”

Farming with nature

A Greener World is well established in the US, Canada and European markets as a trusted and transparent food label. “Internationally, trends are increasingly moving towards consumers rewarding sustainable, ethical farms and buying local, while farmers move to ‘farming with nature’ practices to appeal to these consumers. SA farmers should expect more and more local consumers to want quality, safe and ethically-sourced foods,” he says.

The crops and veggies may look amazing, but what methods are followed in the farming, and are any chemicals used in the process?

AGW is appealing, especially, to the many small to medium family farms and smallholder farms that already subscribe to sustainability to get on board. Zokufa says, “We can guide farmers towards more sustainable practices. In many instances, small farming changes make meaningful, ethical changes to the animals’ welfare and the environment. We have found that farmers often use methods because they have always been used, like tail docking or clipping pigs’ teeth. Studies have proven that these distressing practices are not necessary. AGW helps farmers make – and benefit from making – some easy changes,” he says.

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One of the few good economic stories to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic locally is that South African farmers had one of their best years in 2020, and 2021 also looks favourable. “Signing onto A Greener World is a chance for SA farmers to sustainably and ethically grow their businesses, in line with consumers’ increasing demand for green-conscious food,” says Zukufa. “An AGW certification puts certified and audited food producers at the forefront in terms of trustworthiness.”

It’s always satisfying to have information on how livestock is raised before you get stuck into preparing and consuming meat products. Going local is one way to ensure you know your product and the people who raise the animals. Picture: Max Delsid on Unsplash

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AGW animal welfare certification means animals must be raised outdoors on pasture or range, without common industry practices such as teeth-clipping, tail-docking, dehorning or beak-trimming. Any AGW certification also guarantees that animals receive no added hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics. Zokufa says, “This means that consumers can trust AGW certification to help them make ethical, healthier food choices and reward farmers who are adhering to responsible, sustainable farming practices.

Green-washing

“All our standards are accessible on our website,” he says. “You would assume this to always be the case, but many companyies’ ethical standards are not readily available. We are appealing to green-conscious consumers to insist that their retailers get the farms they are buying from certified by AGW. It’s the best way to avoid green-washing and have peace of mind that the products you are buying have been sustainably – and kindly – farmed,” he says.

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