Organic news from around Asia

Photo by Adli Wahid on Unsplash

By Pacita U. Juan

Did you know that UHT milk is the most sought after or most popular grocery item needing an organic label in China? I just found out that Vietnam and China, both countries with a young population, are switching to organic milk, baby foods and even cereals.

We had a roundtable at BIOFACH/VIVANESS 2021 Virtual conference and exhibition– the biggest organic conference and exhibition worldwide yesterday where Naturland invited speakers from Vietnam, China and Philippines (yours truly) to talk about organic value chains in Asia.

I shared that in the Philippines many farms are organic by default as farms (in coffee especially) are small holder farms whose owners have no money to buy inputs and pesticides. I wish I could have shared our stats (unavailable at the present) but both countries shared the double digit growth of Organic demand in their places–and in these categories- milk,snacks, baby food and cereals.

It’s looking like the future is really organic as more people look for safer and cleaner food. I remember the lines in Hongkong for Chinese tourists to buy infants formula at drug stores–yes milk for babies– and they queue up to bring home cans of powdered milk for babies, and that was around 10 years ago.

In Vietnam where people snack all the time, there is a shift to buying organic snacks. I remember visiting Ho Chi Minh two years ago and our host Anna Dolor Fernandez took us to a Vinamit Organic store for cashews, peanuts, dried fruit like jackfruit and green tea.

In China, the growth of organic demand is 21% vs the global growth of 14%.

When Covid happened, we observed that Filipinos gravitated to fresh vegetables whose origins they knew (traceability) and for the new essentials: virgin coconut oil (VCO) that’s organic, turmeric tea, coconut Sugar, mascobado or muscovado and the usual essentials: rice, coffee and cacao products. Thus the rise of “Farm to table ” concepts, direct to farmer millennial businesses delivering fruits and vegetables and the rise of coffees with origins and sweeteners like honey, muscovado and coconut sugar to name a few.

So this is the trend and a global one at that. As people wait for the vaccine, we stay home and eat safe and clean food. Especially for seniors and babies, eating out is not always a good option due to exposure to asymptomatic virus carriers. And the way to ensure eating safe is to choose organic.

Thanks to our legislators there is an Organic Law to encourage farmers to grow food in a safer way and for consumers to benefit from good practices. Now let’s make its work!

There even is a League of Organic Municipalities and Cities and Provinces(LOAMCP) led by Vic Tagupa and how we hope that every little town or city could be part of it. I challenge every legislator to put his province in this group of like-minded people.

Let’s all do our share for safer and clean food. And learn more about organic ways.

First, it is soil- based, not peat, not water, not air. Second, it allows you to make your own fertilizer . Or buy organic certified like Vermicast from Kahariam Farms.

Third, it makes your whole farm organic and will bring back the birds and the bees and I can think of many other reasons to go organic.

Will you now grow organic? Think of your own food first before you even think of selling or reselling.

The Doubting Thomas in many of us think organic is just to make stuff expensive. Or it’s something inaccessible for the less privileged. Mind you, who you think is less privileged actually has access to growing their own food organically. In Benguet , for example, farmers have their own stash or plot of “safer” vegetables for their own consumption  and the rest are for selling. In Cavite, pineapples have a double standard. Those for home consumption are never sprayed with chemicals or jabbed with ripening agents. So how to be sure, look for the origin of vegetables and fruits. And of many other essentials you eat everyday—rice, coffee, chocolate, honey.

Why do we want safe and clean food? Because getting sick is expensive and a bother or worry none of us can afford. Must we be paranoid about it? Well, it’s always good to eat clean, safe and good food  whether our stay here on Earth is short or long. Some pundits say we should not live to be 100, but I think that everyday we should just live. Live well, eat well, and do well.

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