|The Saudi Organic Farming Association “SOFA” was established according to the Cabinet Decree No. 273 dated 21 / 8 / 1428 H. It is a corporate body of independent, economic, legal entity, conducting its business under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture. The head office of SOFA is in Riyadh city. The farmers form the major share of SOFA members, apart from promoters, processors, scientists and others dedicated to organic agriculture. It is considered the first association for organic farming in KSA.SOFA aims at upgrading the organic agriculture sector and its products by supporting sustainable agricultural production and the sustainable use of natural resources. SOFA is in line with the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), which is defining organic agriculture as:
“Production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes,biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved…”
Organic farming systems do not permit the application of synthetic inputs such as insecticides, chemical fertilizers, growth regulators and industrial detergents. Likewise, genetic modified organisms “GMOs” & radiation are strictly prohibited. Accordingly, organic farming systems are natural bio systems which do not depend on any chemical additives. Equally, organic agriculture will decrease environmental pollution.
SOFA aims at encouraging farmers to convert to organic agriculture, emphasizing key benefits such as economic benefits for the farmer, the improvement of soil characteristics, the rationalization of water consumption in agricultural irrigation, as well as general issues related to the safe handling of food, plants and animals. In addition, benefits of organic agriculture for consumers are accentuated, who benefit from safe and healthy food.
SOFA is seeking to submit integrated services to its affiliates in the field of technical support, marketing and specialized trainings. Services will particularly derive from strategic plans and recommendations submitted by various SOFA committees and the board of directors.
SOFA will contribute to build confidence among producers and consumers by disseminating the National Organic Logo, which will be labeled on all organic products which have been produced according to the Saudi Organic Regulation. The National Organic Logo will be approved by the Ministry of Agriculture and subsequently granted by SOFA. The Saudi Organic Label ensures that all products are of high quality, follow the rules of the Saudi Organic Regulation and are monitored by the Ministry of Agriculture.
SOFA moreover supports the interests of its affiliates in the field of production, marketing, as well as importing and exporting of organic products. SOFA is also engaged with observing and monitoring the organic market and is forwarding violations to the Saudi Organic Regulation to the concerned sections of the competent authority.
The Ministry of Agriculture is represented by the Department of Organic Agriculture “DOA”. The DOA is responsible for the legislative framework for organic agriculture in the KSA. Major duties of the DOA include the monitoring and surveillance of Standards set by the National Organic Regulation and Specification. SOFA will furthermore support the DOA by providing appropriate recommendations, which will serve to support the sector in general and its affiliates in particular.
SOFA is seeking to promote its activities through increasing its prominence throughout media. SOFA will conduct various symposia and meetings to introduce organic agriculture and the work of SOFA throughout all regions of the KSA. SOFA will to a great extent depend on the SOFA website to communicate with members and organic communities. Among others, beneficial information and accurate statistics will be provided via the website to serve SOFAs affiliates and the organic community.
Allah bless you…
Dr. Fahd Bin AbdulRahman Balghunaim