“Organic” is not the same as “agroecological”

13 Apr 2020

Organic producers clarify what are the differences between organic and agroecological given the strong demand for food delivery of this type.

In times of quarantine due to the Coronavirus, the delivery of bags of “agroecological” or “organic” vegetables and fruits is growing strongly. This movement towards a “healthy” and “sustainable” diet, as those who promote it, has been taking on a greater dimension worldwide. But neither here nor there do all consumers distinguish the differences between one and another type of production. Beyond both pursuing the same goal, sustainable agriculture that provides healthy food is not technically the same. So the cost to pay for one or the other is also different.

And why are they different if both proclaim to produce without using transgenics or agrochemicals? The big difference is that “organic” production has national and international certification processes that guarantee the origin and traceability of the product that reaches the consumer. Since a specific law was passed in the mid-1990s, SENASA (National Service for Agri-Food Health and Quality) has been operating by enabling a series of certification companies, which are in charge of verifying compliance with the organic production standard that it corresponds, according to the market of destination of said product.

Gabriel Berardinelli is the president of the Argentine Chamber of Certifiers (CACER), which groups together firms specialized in giving certainty to the consumer of what they are buying. Some time ago he explained to Bichos de Campo what that task consists of and how that sector is integrated.

The production called “agroecological”, on the other hand, does not have official certification processes, although it also goes through production processes that are friendly to the environment and people’s health, and incorporates an approach that considers the corporate purpose above the agricultural business, based in the Social Economy, associativism and cooperative work. Basically here the consumer must choose between believing or not believing in the person who sells said food, because there is no other way to give certainty. There is only one very preliminary certification attempt carried out by the UBA Faculty of Agronomy, which we also reported at the time.

However, both production techniques emerge to respond to market niches that demand more and more products with differentiated qualities, and that come from producers that face the degradation of natural resources and the intensification of climate change that pressures on the soil, water and forests. The differences are in the certificate.

According to Ricardo Parra, president of the Argentine Movement for Organic Production (MAPO), “there are three types of productions that are different from each other: conventional, agroecological, and organic, in the latter case there are more controls, certain types of care required in a law, with transactional certificates that make it a reliable production for the consumer, ”he explained to Bichos de Campo.

Parra recalled that “organic production falls within law 25,127 which indicates what can and cannot be done. There is mainly talk of taking care of traceability from end to end, which makes the controls super rigid, so that the establishment where it is produced has to comply with Senasa’s requirements, which is the control body through four certifiers ”.

Thus, an organic producer receives semi-annual audits, and obtains an organic product as long as it has a transactional certificate. “It is often said that certification is expensive, but in reality the whole process is expensive. If I do not have a room enabled according to what Senasa asks, I cannot certify, “Parra said.

The producer considered that the coronavirus tipped the balance even further due to the consumption of organic and agro-ecological products. “The positive part of this pandemic is that people generally stay at home, quarantine, do a home office, and that eventually led to an increase in the consumption of organic products, not only in delivery but in local stores, which it is where the heart of the organic is strongest ”.

The organic producer is not a millionaire or anything like it, according to the president of MAPO. “It is a small producer, with the characteristic that it exports much of its production due to external demand. We are generally families who also seek what agroecologists seek, associativism. We are 1,700 Argentine organic producers, and MAPO in this sense, is a kind of umbrella for them. So the social part also works strong here, “he emphasized.

“All our production is controlled and our growth is in double figures, both in producers and in the internal and external markets. The market grows for us from a more conscious consumer, and that exceeds this pandemic, ”he said. For Parra “it is the consumer who chooses what type of products he wants to consume, and the producer the type of production he wants to carry out. You have to defend what you do correctly, without confusing. People have to be given the correct information. ”

Source: Bichos de Campo