Monthly Archive: November 2012

Nov 29

MASIPAG: Organic Agriculture for Farmer Empowerment and Rural Development

Magsasaka at Siyentipiko Para sa Pag-Unlad ng Agrikultura (MASIPAG) has been at the forefront of organic agriculture development in the Philippines since its inception in 1986.  MASIPAG farmers used their skills and knowledge, both traditional and adapted technologies, to manage pests and diseases;  biodiversity conservation and breeding; use of farm available resources to manage soil fertility, proving that organic food production need not be expensive to be viable and profitable. Farmers products are certified through the MASIPAG Farmers Guarantee System or MFGS which includes peer inspection and evaluation system. Today more and more farmers are being involved in this PGS with products sold at the local market.

The increased popularity of organic agriculture signifies a positive trend for the Philippines. It was reinforced by the national government by passing Republic Act 10068, also known as the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010. Although it was enacted to “promote, propagate and develop further and implement the practice of organic agriculture in the country” and that “the government recognizes and supports the central role of the farmers, indigenous peoples and other stakeholders at the grassroots in this program”, it puts long-time organic small farmers at a disadvantage, as it limits use of the term “organic” to third party certified products. For MASIPAG, recognition of all types of certification system is crucial to include and provide incentive to all organic producers, small, big and corporate and to strengthen not only the export market but more importantly, the domestic market.

Today, MASIPAG, along with other NGOs, LGUs and academe, is pushing for the amendment of RA 10068 to recognize all types of certification system so that small farmers can regain their rights to call and label their products organic to be able to truly promote and ensure organic agriculture in the Philippines.

 

www.masipag.org
info@masipag.org

Nov 27

Celebrating IFOAM 40th Anniversary in the Highlands of Cusco in Peru

It is very well known the mega biodiverse country Peru is.  Los Andes mountain chain embeds a wide range of climates and ecosystems becoming a centre of origin of important food species to feed the world: corns, potatoes, Andean cereals and grains such as amaranth, quinoa, kañiwa, roots such as arracacha and many others.  The agroecological approach to preserve these valuable genetic resources is a must for the future of our food system in highly genetic diversified areas.  Diversified resources are linked to diversified cultures. Cusco was the centre of the Inca’s empire before the Spaniards arrived to America, but before the Incas there were other ancient cultures domesticating plants and animals for a food secure society.

Nowadays, AGROECO, a project aiming food security and rural livelihoods improvement, is working with improved techniques, ecologically sound systems, but also culturally appropriated whereas ancient wisdom and tradition enrich science and technology for food production.  Vanaja Ramprasad, former IFOAM World Board Member and President of Green Foundation from India, visited Peru in May 2012 and shared knowledge and experiences on community seed banks.  Vanaja gave a conference and several lectures to crowded auditoriums in Cusco and Lima, addressing local authorities, the academy, students and rural development organizations. She shared key aspects to consider in the analysis of the current world food crisis as well as the experience of Green Foundation in the promotion of community seed banks.  No better closure for her visit in Cusco to celebrate IFOAM’s anniversary than the spiritual encounter of two worlds with a Pachamama celebration and lanterns release in the city of Cusco.  This celebration was a joint activity of AGROECO and IFOAM Latin America Regional Group (GALCI).

Read more about AGROECO in http://www.leisa-al.org/agroeco/

Nov 25

Rural Development Administration. The Organic Paradigm

South Korea has successfully experienced the green revolution; it broke out chronic hunger after the colonial period and the Korean War. The economic success of Korea was supported by stable food supply from farmers and advanced R&Ds by RDA. However, we should not fall into the inertia, because our planet is challenged by food security, climate change, mass extinction of species from decrease in biodiversity, oil depletion and soil and water pollutions. RDA is finding a solution to the global issues with the help of innovative R&Ds in organic and sustainable agriculture, conservation and careful use of natural resources.

Governmental support for organic farmers makes us expect that organic and sustainable farming products would reach 10% of total agricultural products in 2013. Still, organic farmland represents only 0.8% of the total farmland in Korea, and farming technology and its distribution strategy should be innovated to increase organic farms. Organic agriculture division of RDA is a key organization for the innovation of R&Ds in organic farming. RDA selected an agenda for organic and sustainable agriculture in 2008, and has supported many collaborative research projects from university, industry and even organic farmers.

In September 30, 2011, RDA and IFOAM signed an agreement on the collaboration for management of the Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA) and for distribution of innovative organic agricultural technologies. OFIA will be presented every three year in the Organic World Congress. RDA and IFOAM will continue to cooperate in operating OFIA. The OFIA will be a channel to support the R&D for developing the global organic agriculture. RDA and IFOAM will carry out diverse cooperation projects for the organic paradigm.

 

Minho Lee
RDA-IFOAM Collaborative project coordinator
Organic Agriculture Division, National Academy of Agricultural Science (NAAS), RDA,
Republic of Korea
E-mail: mhlee@korea.kr

Nov 19

From a Strong Supporter of IFOAM’s Poverty Eradication Policy, a Message to the Organic Community

Poverty eradication still remains the over- riding priority for developing countries including Turkey and the greatest global challenge is, we have to care about Mother Nature that nurtures us. With the recent global economic crisis, financing for development of the developing world by the developed countries has been increasingly coming under acute pressure and requirement of enhanced development assistance is all the more critical when developing countries are faced with curtailed capital flows, austerity measures and increased programming requirements. Even the EU Food Program is under threat. Development operational activities of the Global System under UN policies must have the ability to respond and adapt to the evolving environment and expectations of individual countries, scientific communities, NGOs (as IFOAM did) stressing that the programming activities need to be harmonized with the budgetary plus other precautions and policies.

IFOAM recognized that agro-ecological based farming (Organic farming) practiced by small-scale farmers as the most effective approach in addressing climate change, food and water security, biodiversity loss, poverty eradication and sustainable development. World population reached over 7 billion in 2011 and 880 million rural poor people living on less than $1.0 per day/Per Person and 70 percent are partially or completely dependent on agriculture, livestock and food security.  IFOAM came up with a slogan and sent a message through Rio+20 in July 2012 Organic Agriculture: Smart Solutions to Overcome Hunger and Poverty and have been cooperating with local and international members, working with international organizations: FAO, the World Farmers Organization, UNCCD and others. IFOAM is trying to eliminate GMOs and antibiotics use, fighting against industrial harassment and aggressive policies of agriculture industry (i.e. Monsanto.).   That is why it is worth to declare IFOAM “SELIKOFF* OF THE WORLD ORGANIC AGRICULTURE AND LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION” because in a broad spectrum its purpose is to eliminate “Hunger, poverty, natural disasters and feeling powerlessness and hopelessness that represent biggest threat to the world peace” aiming to raise healthy generations by practicing healthy organic agriculture principles.

“The Right to Food” principle stimulated IFOAM’s efforts by prioritizing increased investments in local food production, smallholders, youth, indigenous farmers and paying special attention to women and a commitment to ensure proper nutrition for all. 17th of October is the International Poverty Eradication Day that tries to help “Ending the Violence of Extreme Poverty: Promoting Empowerment and Building Peace” where IFOAM dedicated itself to serve to this purpose.  Despite some important gains, several critical gaps remain that may be solved through the application of the organic agriculture principles through women, standards, flexibility and adaptability is the key to the success.  Increasing opportunities for women in organic agriculture and livestock production can have a powerful impact on productivity and agriculture-led growth.  Women tend to devote a larger fraction of their income to their children’s health and nutrition, laying the foundation for their children’s lifelong cognitive and physical development.

The Rio+20 efforts and the followed correct policy provided by IFOAM which involves scaling up pilot programs to create transformational changes: Legal reforms, especially related to land rights, are often important to ensuring access and use. Expand leadership and participation of women in organic agricultural decision making at all levels and in all institutions related to its policies “Feed the Future” will ensure the food security programs.  The problem is complex, however IFOAM is working on creative solutions that will help women, families and smallholders attain long-term food security for happier and healthier lives of all. Happy 40th anniversary IFOAM, the job is well done.  Thank you and congratulations!

 

Associate Professor Sümer Hasimoglu, MS, PhD
Adviser to Dogu Anadolu Tarim ve Besiciler Birligi Dernegi (DOGTARBESBIR- Eastern Anatolian Agriculture and Livestock Producers Association) Erzurum, Turkey/ Schafer Str. 20, 19053 Schwerin, Germany,

eshasimoglu@yahoo.com

* Dr. Irving Selikoff: He began to publicize his famous research on the health effects of asbestos in 1964.  The industry started a multiyear attack on him and his research. To his credit, Dr. Selikoff endured this sustained industry-generated harassment.  While asbestos is still being exported from and used in some countries, credible scientists agree on its devastating health effects.Similarly to above, it is also worth to mention that one of the research scientists Prof. Dr. Onur Hamzaoglu is chosen as Selikoff** of Turkey who is prosecuted by the Turkish Government and the University administration because he published and explained his research findings and declared that Izmit Province industrial waste is a threat to the health of the people (Increased number of the cancer incidences) live in the area. He was harassed and accused that he had intended to cause panic among people (Cem Terzi, 2012)

 

Nov 15

A Story of Sustainable Production in Vietnam

“No agro-chemicals? We cannot produce!”

This was the biggest challenge when we persuaded farmers in Thanh Xuan commune (at Soc Son district, Hanoi, Vietnam) to convert the conventional production to organic production within the Project of Organic Agriculture Development supported by ADDA. They couldn’t believe that they were able to produce without using agrochemicals. They said chemical fertilizers helped crops grow faster, pesticides effectively protected plants from pests and diseases. They had used them for a long time. “It is unfeasible to do without them”, they concluded.

However, after being encouraged by the local government, and receiving explanations from the Project Officers about the benefits of organic production, and particularly about the commitment to buy the entire production at a higher price in comparison to the prices of the local market, farmers had made the expected decision with a huge doubt.

Just one year later, the farmers recognized that they were able to implement organic production without agrochemicals. All the chemical inputs had become unnecessary due to the technical guides that assured enough nutrition for plants and minimized the damage from pests and diseases in organic production. Furthermore, by eliminating agro-chemicals, they had more stable and a bit higher incomes, as well as healthier, better working conditions. At present, we use this story as the most powerful evidence on the ability of farmers to convert to organic production. Every time the story is repeated, the farmers who strongly doubted at that time smile and tell us “we were really stupid back then”.

 

Vietnam PGS Coordination Committee, Hanoi, Vietnam
www.vietnamorganic.vn
www.pgsvietnam.com

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