South West organic enterprises to benefit from new business
Organic farmers and food producers across the entire South
West region of England are to benefit from a new range of
business support services put together by the Bristol-based
Soil Association with the help of the South West Regional
Development Agency (SWRDA), Defra and South West Food and
Drink. Nearly 100 farmers and organic food producers from
across the region attended a special seminar in Exeter where
new initiatives were announced on Friday 12 May 2006.
Phil Stocker, head of the Soil Association's Food and
Farming department said: "This is a momentous occasion
and the South West has been chosen in recognition of the high
number of certified organic producers already established
in this area. The resurgence of interest in organic food nationally
provides real opportunities to expand and rebuild existing
businesses whilst still leaving room for new start-ups."
With over 1,000 producers, the South West (Cornwall, Devon,
Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire) has 25 per
cent of England's certified organic enterprises and
40 per cent of its organic land area. Following the occurrence
of the last Foot and Mouth outbreak in 2001, agriculture has
gone through a radical change and been subject to considerable
changes in policy. Anna Bassett is the new senior development
officer for Organic South West and her role is to effect a
strategy maximising opportunities for organic businesses across
the whole of the South West.
"My first task is to identify the barriers, perceived
or actual, that exist between producers, food processors and
the retail industry," said Anna. "We
already know that there is a huge demand for organic food
by consumers, much of which is still met by imports. This
is clearly unsustainable and simply shows the potential market
for locally grown, seasonal and high quality products that
will ultimately benefit the south west's local economy
Mike Johns, SWRDA's Food and Rural Enterprise manager
attending the meeting said: "The organic sector
is one of the fastest growing in the food industry and with
its significant contribution towards tourism and the environment
has an important role to play in the development of the region's
economy. We are all indebted to some of the pioneering organic
producers in this part of the world who have lead the way
in creating the market," continued Mr Johns, "However
as more people join the sector, we recognise their need for
business support during this dramatic increase in growth."
The new services announced on Friday will be under the leadership
of Organic South West, which was established in 2000 to promote
organic food and farming in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
Now under the management of Traci Lewis, this offshoot of
the Soil Association provides technical help and support for
producers converting to organic growing throughout Cornwall
and the Isles of Scilly. Supported by Objective One investment
from 2002, the project also assists food processors and small
businesses with marketing and design expertise to help them
enter the food market on both a regional and national level.
For further information please contact Emma Parkin, PR and
Media on 01392 490009 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in Organic South West through
the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).
Anyone considering a new horticulture, food and
land based industries project is advised to speak with Martin
Butler at Government Office South West on 01752 635134 before
commencing development as there are now only limited funds
available due to the successful uptake of funding by the agricultural
sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The organic market development project is funded by SWRDA
and SW Food and Drink.
Organic South West is a Soil Association project, part funded
by the EAGGF and Defra through the Objective One Programme,
to help grow the organic market in Cornwall & the Isles
of Scilly. They provide technical, business and market support
across the supply chain to businesses that produce, process
and retail organic produce. They also operate an Objective
One business grant scheme of up to 50% funding for organic
businesses that wish to develop their business. For more information
Press release issued and distributed on behalf of Organic
South West by Emma Parkin, PR and Media. Tel. 01392 490009
or email: email@example.com.
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439