19 May 2000
Scots aim to double organic output

By Shelley Wright

A NEW organisation, due to be launched late this summer, aims to almost double the organic output from Scotlands farms within the next three years.

Organic Scotland is being established by the Scottish Organic Producers Association (SOPA) and the Soil Association.

A prospectus released this week highlights that Scotland is falling behind the rest of the UK in meeting the growing demand for organic produce.

The reasons given include lack of producer support – due mainly to a lack of money – and under-developed and fragmented marketing.

Scotland rates highly in terms of the land area currently converted to organic farming (2.5%, compared with just 1.3% for the UK).

But the prospectus points out that this figure is deceptive because about 85% of the organically certified land is rough grazing.

“A mere 2.5% of the organic land in Scotland is used for arable or horticultural cropping. This compares with 20% for the UK as a whole,” it says.

Organic Scotland, registered as a charity, hopes to provide an integrated service for organic producers and potential converts.

It aims to expand Scottish organic production by 30% a year for three years from the current base of 515 farmers and 300,000 ha (741,300 acres).

The ultimate aim, if sufficient funding can be found, is to base the organisation on an organic demonstration farm in central Scotland.