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Inspired growth for South African organic products - 30 January 2008

The Organic Freedom Project (OFP), a non-profit organisation founded by Pick ’n Pay and Anglo Coal in 2006, is currently supplying 45 organically certified fresh produce lines into 157 Pick ’n Pay stores and will extend this to 110 product lines by the end of the first quarter.

Established in October 2006, as a job creation project dedicated to the growth of organic products in Southern Africa, part of Pick ’n Pay’s commitment to the OFP’s growing programmes is a guaranteed purchase agreement prior to contracting the relevant OFP member.

“Pick ’n Pay’s commitment to the organic market sector and particularly to the OFP has been outstanding”, says David Wolstenholme, Managing Director of the Project. “We are currently working on more than 250 organic fresh and processed lines for Pick ’n Pay that will be launched countrywide throughout 2008. OFP expects to generate turnover of R80 million in 2008 and over R200 million in 2009.”

According to OFP Director of Business Development, Heinrich Schultz, “75% of OFP farming zones have successfully incorporated farm workers and/or emerging farmers in their supply programmes.”

In 2008 the OFP’s focus is on providing organic commodities such as dairy, meat, soy, wheat, maize, tea and cotton. Specialty lines will include a range of organic teas (Rooibos, Honey Bush, Black Teas, Buchu and Green Teas), herbs and spices, and a full selection of organic wines. One of the this year’s most significant targets includes the introduction of organic milk supported by a selection of yogurts, cream, butter and cheeses.

Says Wolstenholme, “Best farming practise will be enforced creating healthy soils and managing water resources, thereby facilitating a true win-win outcome that creates jobs, contributes to the economy, and provides the foundation for a sustainable environment-friendly food production system.”

The OFP confirms that it is looking to make use of up to 200,000 hectares for organic environmentally friendly textiles and bio-fuels. Schultz and Wolstenholme believe that the Programme will assist in creating up to 100,000 new jobs that will grow commodities using a strictly enforced crop rotation.

Highlights of the commodity production will include organic cotton, wool and soy based textiles. The soy textile will come from the stem of the soy plant that is normally ploughed back into the fields. Soy based textiles have a look and feel that falls between cotton and silk and will be a 100% South African product.

“South Africa currently imports 100% of all organic textiles. The significance of OFP’s soy textile production is that we will be converting a zero value item into a premium textile product that can be sold locally for the same or less than organic cotton,” concludes Wolstenholme.

A by-product of the soy textile will be bio-fuel produced from the seed from the soy plant. This in turn will be crushed into crude oil that can be further processed into environmentally safe paraffin. Other oil seeds that will be grown as rotation crops will include sunflower and canola and will be processed into organic cooking oils.

The OFP has a goal to be the largest organic agricultural membership based organisation in Africa.