Monthly Archive: September 2012

Sep 28

International Organic Inspectors Association: Working to Make Organic Agriculture the Norm, not the Exception

Inspector at Work

The International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA) is the professional organization of organic inspectors and offers training and networking world-wide for crop, livestock, and processing inspectors. IOIA was founded in 1991 and started training inspectors in 1993. Now, 20 years later, the IOIA Training Institute trains hundreds of inspectors through dozens of on-site or web-based internationally-recognized training events annually. IOIA operates globally with nearly 250 inspector members in more than a dozen countries. IOIA provides a critical voice for inspectors regarding policies that impact inspectors and organic certification without losing sight of what matters most— growing sustainable agriculture and earth stewardship.

We provide quality training wherever it is requested, foster regional inspector organizations, and improve availability of local inspectors. IOIA trains consultants, educators, and policymakers. Members of IFOAM since 1994, we collaborated with them to produce the IFOAM/IOIA International Organic Inspection Manual, which is the basic manual for all IOIA inspection courses. We respond to requests from around the globe by working with cosponsors and a multi-lingual staff of 24 trainers located worldwide. For example, in 2010, we provided producer workshops in South Africa. In 2011, we delivered organic aquaculture inspection training in a Hong Kong classroom via webinar with a regional cosponsor, a Canadian trainer, and an expert presenter from the USA. We are a partner of the IFOAM Academy to support the first Organic Leadership Course training in the USA, scheduled for March 2013. This training aims to strengthen organic leadership and help build the organic leaders of tomorrow. Each training event in a new region provides a nucleus for generating a new branch of a truly sustainable agricultural network.

South Africa Producer Workshop with Lisa Pierce, IOIA Trainer

Both inspections and inspector training must be rigorous to guarantee organic integrity to the consumer.  Inspectors are typically the only persons on-site annually to verify organic practices for both private and governmental certification bodies. IOIA fills an essential niche to make sure organic really means organic! Thank you, and best wishes to IFOAM. We will continue to value you as a working partner in growing sustainability, so that organic becomes the norm, not the exception. Happy Anniversary!

Margaret Scoles
International Organic Inspectors Association

Sep 24

National Organic Program, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan: Living Growth National Happiness

Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan delivering the speech entitled “Living Growth National Happiness: Making a Full Policy Commitment to Organic Agriculture”

Sustainable Development as per its dictionary reads “a pattern of economic growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in present but also for the generations to come”.

Rio+20 (United Nations Conference on sustainable Development) is a platform where initiatives to promote sustainable development are sought after for achieving a greener economy and a healthier and stable environment for all to live in. On that occasion, at the Opening Session of IFOAM Sustainable Development Learning Event at Rio+20 on June 19, 2012, the Prime Minister of Bhutan delivered a speech “Living Growth National Happiness: Making a Full Policy Commitment to Organic Agriculture”.

The first step towards official adoption of sustainable development strategy at the National level was instigated in Bhutan in the year 2004, with the embracement of Gross National Happiness (GNH) as the Nations Developmental indicator.

Here in Bhutan, our system of Sustainable agriculture includes different production methods, systems and approaches that aim to meet the goal of profitability, stewardship and quality of life as in accordance with the GNH principles.  One of such approaches, we feel, by no means the only one is ORGANIC FARMING. We are determined to make our agriculture genuinely sustainable through working with the nature to enhance rather then degrade, and to farm in such a way as to enrich rather then deplete soil nutrients.

The theme for our eleventh five year plan “Rural Prosperity” is in equivalence with the Rio+20 themes of Greener economy and Sustainable Development, where both are aimed towards the same target of achieving sustainable development and lifting rural people out of poverty.  As stated by our Honorable Prime Minister at the opening session of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (Rio+20), I quote” without food security there is no other kind of security. And without sustainable agriculture, there is no food security.” And I believe Organic Agriculture is the only means for sustaining agriculture and so all forms of life on earth.

We as Bhutanese strongly welcome and encourage more and more of such initiatives thus facilitating a happier life in harmony with our mother nature!

Thinley Gyem
Horticulture officer
National Organic Program, Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests of Bhutan


Sep 18

Canada Organic Trade Association: A guiding light

September 2012 will mark the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s landmark book Silent Spring. In many respects, this book launched what is considered the modern environmental movement in North America. It was a catalyst to major changes in regulation, the government’s role in public and environmental health, and in many ways announced the birth, in earnest, of today’s organic community.

Pause and think a moment of this woman who made such fundamental change as a contrarian amidst the feverishly innovative and entrepreneurial post-war era, when the miracle of chemistry was being integrated into everyday life. She was in many respects a solitary voice, an outsider by her gender and strong conviction, and a questioner of how sustainable our decisions to date had been.

At the time of Silent Spring, we were on a long road to sickness: companies were advertising the uses of DDT to protect crops, livestock and even babies. Dairy cows and their feed were sprayed with the toxic compound. Children frolicked in the plumes of community spray-trucks. Families were sold DDT-laced wallpaper for their newborn’s bedroom to protect them from “pests.”

Today, some of our food is being impregnated at the genetic level similar pesticides— still “miracles” of science to save us from vague threats, and still questionable in their necessity or long-term sustainability.

This fall will also mark the 40th year of IFOAM, when a community came together of those who were unconvinced that chemical death-agents could sustain our life on the planet. These individuals helped shape the vision of an alternative system of organic agriculture and values, and how it could be practiced in nations all around the world.

Then, 20 years ago, we took a sobering moment in Rio to question what the future of our toxic and warming world might look like, and to try to shift it, collectively, to a more sustainable future. And then we returned again this year, with many great achievements to celebrate, but the conviction that more has to be done to truly make a difference.

50 years, 40 years, 20 years ago: major milestones on our road to sustainability. So what will this year bring—will California choose to label GMOs and by so doing help shape the continent? What will we see in five years’ time—will organic agriculture prove its resilience and restorative qualities in a world of unpredictable and extreme weather shifts? And what will we realize in the next 50 years that will ensure our descendants can enjoy the same gifts we were given?

That question is the same one that Rachel Carson faced in 1962: we each must internalize sustainability, we must question every day how the things we do, support, make, or buy either sustain or drain our world of its diversity and its life. This is a daily moment, and a personal one; but we are all, collectively, shaped by its outcome.

Matthew Holmes
Canada Organic Trade Association
Organic Week in Canada

Sep 14

Serbian Organic Foundation: The Change Begins Within

RIO and the Global Sustainable Development – Consciousness based approach

“Food  security  exists when  all  people,  at  all  times,  have  physical and  economic  access  to  sufficient,  safe  and  nutritious  food  to meet  their dietary needs and  food preferences for an active and healthy s life.” (RIO 2012 Briefs on Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture).

For the world to provide “food security for all people and at all times” and achieve a sustainable agriculture globally, we need to address and foster the core of human creativity – the intelligence which lies within every human being individually and the whole of the society collectively. This intelligence is the source of every thought that translates itself into activity, into the structure and dynamics of every societal organization, of every human endeavor and of every economic and political system.

Order or disorder within will ultimately determine the order or disorder in the phenomenal world of man, leading either to evolution, growth, accomplishment and fulfillment, or, if internal disorder prevails, which is the case today globally, to conflicts, problems, hunger, disease and suffering. World will never enjoy the permanent state of “food security and sustainable agriculture” unless the state of self-referral intelligence, the state of absolute order, and the state of infinite creativity, is established and utilized regularly by the human mind through the available and scientifically proven technologies for the development of individual and collective consciousness.

Branko Čičić
Serbian Organic Foundation

Sep 10

Helvetas Kyrgizstan: Organic farmers in Kyrgyzstan

Helvetas Kyrgizstan sending a sky lantern with their message to the Organic community

After the break up of the Soviet Union in 1991, the economy of Kyrgyzstan has undergone significant changes. In the agricultural sector, with the transition to a market economy, large collective farms were fragmented into smallholder farms. In a result the farmers faced difficulties to access fast growing markets, consequences of monoculture in the past led to soil degradation and production costs for individual farmers have increased. In order to address these issues the BioFarmer Cooperative in South Kyrgyzstan introduced organic farming in 2004 by joining 1000 smallholder farmers into one cooperative and establishing links to international organic markets.

The organic and fairtrade farmers have increased their net income by 27% and improved their living. The organic farmers Ms. Baktykan Primkulova and Mr. Raimbek Karimov are cooperative members since 7 years. They live in the village called Beshikjon (literal translation would be “creddle”), which is located 25km away from Jalalabat city. Raimbek says that since he joined the organic cotton project his income has increased due to sales to international market. He mentions the German textile processor Elmertex as the most fair and committed buyer for Kyrgyz cotton. With the returns he is even able to build a house for his children. And Baktykan says she likes the innovative ways of this project, especially growing organic medicinal plants, like Calendula due to its medical features. She called all her neighbours to join the cooperative and today around 70 farmers are growing organic cotton, beans, chick peas and medicinal plants.

The “BioFarmer” Cooperatives continues promoting organic agriculture in the country and helps all farmers to convert to better farming methods.

The message of Kyrgyz organic farmers to the Organic community would be:

  • To establish a common national strategy on organic agriculture and for that using existing experiences to replicate the best practices in other parts of the country
  • Support the organic producers to enter and develop local and regional markets
  • Support in establishing a network of organic and fairtrade producers and other value chain stakeholders in the country and allow exchange of experiences with others

HELVETAS Kyrgizstan

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