Tag Archive: future generations

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

Oct 16

Saudi Organic Farming Association: A Country Committed to Sustainable Food Production

On request of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture, GIZ started to support the development of the Kingdom’s organic agriculture sector in April 2005. The overall mission of the Organic Farming Project was to establish a functioning and sustainable organic agriculture sector in Saudi Arabia. Within a mere 7 years, essential policy and support functions have been set in place and the project together with its partners of the Ministry’s Department of Organic Agriculture (DOA) and the Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA) has turned organic agriculture in the KSA into a remarkable example for organic sector development.

Consumer demand for healthy and high quality foods is growing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. At the same time, domestic organic markets are emerging. Organic agriculture offers substantial opportunities for small farmers in the Kingdom since the shift from severe competition at local conventional markets to an organic niche market offers attractive price premiums in a growing market environment. However, the benefits of organic agriculture are not confined to business opportunities. In addition to market considerations, the Kingdom acknowledges organic as environmentally friendly and emphasizes the potential to protect the Kingdom’s valuable resources by strengthening soil fertility, biodiversity and other ecosystem services.

Beyond national interests, Saudi Arabia has taken up an important role in promoting organic throughout the entire Arabic peninsular. In 2011 the Kingdom has acknowledged the advocating role of IFOAM together with its standard equivalence initiatives and joined IFOAMs Family of Standards. The first Saudi Organic Regulation and Standards are currently under revision in order to fully comply with the Common Objectives and Requirements of Organic Standards (COROS) in the near future. The formation of an IFOAM Middle East Group is on the way; with Dr. Saad Khalil (Ministry of Agriculture Organic Farming Supervisor and Secretary General of SOFA) Saudi Arabia has engaged in both a facilitating and mediating role to strengthen organic in the Middle East, ease equivalence and support regional trade of organic products.

A first organic agricultural policy concept has been introduced in October 2012, depicting adequate policy support measures for strengthening the Kingdom’s organic sector  in a long-term perspective. First reactions by the Saudi government have been very positive and a translation of the policy into an operational organic action plan can be expected in 2013. The policy combines market oriented and resource oriented goals to an intermediate strategy reflecting both productivity  and resource objectives. Strengthening consumers’ awareness via a national PR campaign in 2013 is among priorities as well as supporting and strengthening basic governmental functions such as  Organic Research and Extension.

Organic agriculture research in dry climatic environments such as Saudi Arabia offers great future opportunities to deliver substantial solutions for smallholders in the Kingdom and elsewhere. In the light of extreme climates, Organic Research & Extension is among key issues which can make a difference for organic producers to help shape global sustainable organic systems development in future. Saudi Arabia has taken up this challenge and is about to develop and strengthen its Organic Agriculture Research Sector together with the GIZ in close collaboration with FiBL Switzerland. There is a lot to do, yet at the same time a lot of confidence and motivation to provide solutions to producers in arid climates in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Dr. Marco Hartmann
Organic Farming Project
Team Leader/Project Director

Dr. Saad Khalil
Organic Farming Supervisor, Ministry of Agriculture
Secretary General, Saudi Organic Farming Association (SOFA)



Oct 10

Artebio: Active in the European Market? Protect your Interests. Support IFOAM EU.

As the European umbrella organization for organic food and farming, we take on the hard work of lobbying for the inclusion of organic ideas and solutions in mainstream agricultural policy. The European institutions see us as a key contact for matters of agriculture, environment, research and health issues. Our wide network at the institutions and alliances with like-minded civil society organizations and NGOs, enable us push through amendments to EU regulations and weigh in on decisions of importance for the organic industry.

The fact that we represent so many diverse stakeholders gets OUR voice heard; together we have much more impact than any individual stakeholder could. That’s possible due to the great depth of knowledge and commitment of our board, e-board, diverse membership and Brussels-based staff.

Read more about IFOAM EU Group on www.ifoam-eu.org

IFOAM EU is not just a regional group for me: the important decisions on agricultural policy and as a consequence agricultural practices are taken in Brussels. If we want to work for a better agricultural future, Brussels is therefore the place to be. In the organic industry our hearts and minds are set on being the leader in sound solutions for the challenges humanity is facing, so we must have a strong representation in Brussels. Join me in sponsoring the good work of IFOAM EU!”

Alexandra Thöring, artebio – International Agency for Organic Products

Aug 03

Biovision Foundation: We can work with the Rio+20 outcome

Interview with Dr. Hans Rudolf Herren, Winner of the World Food Prize, Founder and President of the Biovision Foundation

The final declaration of the Rio+20 conference has drawn a lot of criticism from the media and from NGOs around the world. It is widely seen as a toothless document that does not really address the world’s problems and allows big business to continue to exploit the planet. Biovision’s media releases from Rio have been much more positive – how come?
Of course it would have been better if the declaration had been more specific with regard to setting goals now, time frames in which they should be achieved and appointing international bodies to oversee and, if necessary, enforce these processes. But the decision to establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on sustainable development goals by the end of 2013 goes some way in that direction and will help to move us beyond the Millennium Development Goals and guide the Green Economy into a true three dimensional approach involving the environment, society and the economy. This also has relevance for agriculture.
But it is also true that with regard to the over-exploitation of marine and forest ecosystems the declaration reflects an irresponsible and ignorant attitude. However, in the current world economic climate that was never going to happen. No one was prepared to bear more costs or agree to measures that might restrict growth.
However, it could have come much worse. Some proposals for the text meant an actual step back from standards that had been set well before Rio+20, such as people’s right to clean water and sanitation which was to be worded much more vaguely. Pressure from some countries prevented these setbacks.
I see the glass as half full and believe some passages form a good basis for progress towards a sustainable future.

The push for a more sustainable agriculture being one of them?
Yes, one such area is sustainable agriculture and food systems, where the Biovision/Millennium Institute team had been active for about a year ahead of the conference. With the help of a number of like-minded allies, such as NGO’s and delegations committed to sustainable development, in particular the Swiss one, we managed to get much of our wording into the final text. So we are very pleased that the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) has been charged with supporting country led efforts to guide the transition to sustainable agriculture. The CFS will model its support after the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) and, most importantly, the CFS will follow a multi-stakeholder procedure, which includes not only representatives from governments, business and science, but especially includes representatives of the farming community and civil society.
This is a great basis on which Biovision and its partners can build to advance both, the agriculture and food system transformation projects on the ground and at policy level in our focus countries in Africa.

But did you not want more from Rio+20?
Yes, with respect to agriculture the words ‘transformation’ or ‘transition’ of global agricultural policy that we had proposed on the basis of the IAASTD report were dropped. For example, we would have welcomed some firmer commitments to supporting smallholder farmers and granting land rights – particularly for women, who are the majority of these farmers who are denied such rights in many countries.
I also missed a sense of urgency from political leaders. The IAASTD report clearly stated that business as usual is not an option – and the report was published in 2008. We simply cannot afford to lose more time!
 Nevertheless, our position and that of the people we work with on the ground has been strengthened. This is a process that involves many interests and we think that we’re at least heading in the right direction.

And what about agricultural policies and the interest of big agricultural business?
We certainly weren’t the only ones, lobbying before and during Rio+20. Big business still would like everybody to believe that only huge mono-cultures and the massive use of genetic engineering, fertilizers and pesticides can feed the world.
But the IAASTD report clearly came to the conclusion, that this goal can only be achieved with sustainable agriculture, based on smallholder farmers who already produce 70% of the world’s food. And with the world population due to grow beyond 9 billion by 2050, we cannot afford the ill-effects for the environment as a whole, the destruction of fertile soils, the huge waste of food and the social repercussions caused by the methods used by industrial agriculture. Not to mention the speculative nature of food trading fostered by these companies to maximize their profits.
We did feel in Rio that our view is becoming more and more accepted. But the fight must go on.

Where else could you get support for your fight?
One important player in this field is the consumer. An important point also addressed in the declaration. Unless we learn to shop more responsibly, realise that one calorie of meat requires seven calories of grown food and immense amounts of water to produce, we will be even less able to nourish the growing global population.
And today we accept that nearly one billion people are suffering from hunger. At the same time over a billion are obese, courtesy of cheap, processed food. With the growing middle classes in the emerging economies, this problem is going to get much worse if we do not get through to the consumer with these messages.

And then you have UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge…
Yes, Ban Ki-moon’s vision presented in Rio that not a single person should go hungry in our world of plenty lends strong support to our position. We can even take some credit for this initiative, as it largely reflects the outcome of a High Level Roundtable that we organized in March in New York on this very subject.
Ban Ki-moon stressed the need for sustainable food systems everywhere and demanded greater opportunities for smallholder farmers given their great share in the world’s food production. His office has been very supportive of our initiative to place sustainable agriculture higher on the agenda of Rio+20. Overall, we had support from many quarters, some of it we had not expected; another reason why my overall assessment of Rio+20 is largely positive and I think we can really work with these results.
One very positive experience in Rio was the constructive cooperation with other NGOs, delegations and representatives of the private sector. So we invite all like-minded and concerned people to join our efforts. Especially the private sector is welcome to sit down with us to seek solutions for making this world a better place, not just for now, but for our children as well.

Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Switzerland

Jun 15

BioFach: A More Sustainable World for the Good of all People

Many people regard the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 as a major milestone in international environment policy. Its results include the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biodiversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification, and the action programme Agenda 21. 20 years later from 20–22 June 2012, the international community meets again in Rio de Janeiro  at the Conference on Sustainable Development, when the community of states will discuss the urgent problems in the areas of environment, resources and climate at the highest political level.

In many areas, the organic sector’s ideals correspond to what will concern the world’s leaders at the Rio summit: a greener, fairer and more resource-friendly world that through sustainability can help to reduce poverty in many parts of the globe and stop climate change.

BioFach, the World Organic Trade Fair, gathers the entire international sector for ecologically produced goods in the Exhibition Centre Nuremberg once a year. Besides manufacturing and trade, this includes a large number of political representatives, associations, NGOs and media representatives. Nowhere else do as many people for whom a more sustainable form of agriculture, production and trading is a key driving force for their business meet in one place on four days. The experts use the whole BioFach network in Nürnberg and in the other venues in Japan, the USA, Brazil, China and India as locations from where they can shape the future – not only of their own sector.

On behalf of BioFach, we wish the organizers of Rio+20 in Rio de Janeiro every success and hope that the international community takes a great step forward in the realization of a more sustainable world for the good of all people in this world, including future generations!

Claus Rättich
Member of the Management Board