Chairman of the ASEAN Organic Federation, Vitoon Panyakul, said that the group, which currently represents six major organic-producing countries, will be introducing new organic standards to regulate production of organic agriculture. The announcement was made at the Biofach Southeast Asia 2019 and Natural Expo Southeast Asia 2019 events.

The six countries that are being represented by the AOF are Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, and Cambodia; all of which have a robust and expansive agricultural sector. The new organic standards are expected to reduce production costs and improve supply chain management within the industry.

“Organic-producing countries in ASEAN still have different standards for organic crops, livestock, aquaculture and processed food,” Mr Vitoon said. “The same organic standard in ASEAN will improve supply chain management and reduce production costs of the producing members in the region.”

Overall, ASEAN’s total organic farmland is around three (3) million rai (1 rai = 1600m2) or twelve (12) to fifteen (15) rai per farmer. Apart from Malaysia and Singapore, most other ASEAN members are export-oriented organic producers. Mr Vitoon said that ASEAN nations should strive to produce fewer mass organic products and focus on producing higher quality products instead.

Currently, the global organic agriculture market remains relatively strong with a market now worth US$104 billion and an annual growth rate of approximately 20 per cent on average. Some of the key organic markets include the US, who is also the biggest market with the value of US$45.2 billion, and Germany, which comes at a far second at US$10.04 billion.

Mr Vitoon stated that the new standards will alleviate some of the difficulties that ASEAN is facing with regards to weak supply chain management and high production costs stemming from environmental factors affecting crop yields.

“Currently, consumers are still confused about organic products because of too many food labelling schemes such as safe conventional agriculture, good agricultural practice, pesticide-free agriculture, hygienic food, pesticide safe and organic,” Mr Vitoon said. “The same organic standards in ASEAN will help address this confusion to a certain extent.”

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