Tag Archive: nature conservation

Aug 31

Zakho Small Villages Projects: Pushing for Organic Agriculture in Iraq

In 1997, Zakho Small Project Villages (ZSVP)started its organic agriculture activities in Iraq. Through the dissemination of organic agriculture techniques, awareness raising on environment and pesticide hazards, rural extension and  training courses for farmers, rural women, agriculture department staff and students, ZSVP pushed for Organic Agriculture in Iraq.

At that period, we (as an NGO interested in Organic Agriculture) faced many problems with the government, first because of economic sanctions. Indeed, the main goal of the government was to produce food without taking any consideration to the value, health and environmental issues. Secondly, we faced problems with the FAO policy in Iraq, as the FAO due to the UN resolution 986 (Oil for Food) was regularly importing a lot of agriculture chemicals  and distribute to or oblige farmers to receive these chemical inputs as a condition to receive other equipments.

Until 2003, organic activities were focused on Northern governorates of Iraq, but after this date, our organic program expanded to cover other areas of Iraq thanks to the support of international organizations.

In 2009, the Organic agriculture department is founded in the Ministry of agriculture in Iraq which expected to play an important role in dissemination of organic agriculture among farmers especially in middle and southern governorates.

During 2010-2012, many conferences and meetings arranged by universities and Iraqi academics recommended to adopt organic agriculture as a mean to reduce the deterioration in the environment and agriculture land which was caused by the successive Gulf wars between 1980-2003.

Organic Grape Production in Iraq

In 2010 and for the first time in Iraq, 37 farmers (Grapes growers) were organically certified  and work is ongoing to increase the land organically cultivated and certified farmers.

Today, organic agriculture is studied in colleges of agriculture in the Kurdistan region and Iraq especially to graduate students.

These are important achievements that need to be underlined, however there are still many challenges the organic farmers have to face in Iraq. They include:

  • Drought and desertification problems and lack of will from the government to tackle this problem;
  • Lack of law and legislation in Iraq to provide a legal framework for organic production;
  • Non availability of organic inputs and high prices if available;
  • Lack of organic marketing of farmers’ produce;

These challenges can be overcome by organizing advocacy campaigns for the protection of agricultural land in Iraq against unsustainable practices, procedures and the government’s mismanagement of soil and agricultural land. The governement should be pressured to create a legislation and framework for organic production, as well as for marketing and certification of organic products.

IFOAM can contribute and play an important role in arranging training programs on organic agriculture for farmers and rural women. This is why ZSVP is Proud member of IFOAM.

Dr. Abid Alli Hasan
Zakho Small Villages Program Coordinator in Iraq

Apr 16

CAAE: Towards an always higher sustainability

CAAE Lantern LaunchWith more than 13,000 members and beyond 900,000 hectares of organic certified production, the CAAE Association is a Spanish non-for-profit organization that works for the development of certified organic farming, counting among its objectives environmental protection and rural development. CAAE is part of the IFOAM EU Group and EOCC Boards and is one of the founding organizations of the Leading Organic Alliance (LOA).

Since its creation in 1991, the CAAE Association is defending sustainability, starting CAAE Photo 3from the certified organic production sector. It implements and supports projects focusing on training, information and awareness of the society on the respect of the environment and the consumption of organic food, like the annual Organic Week taking place in Andalusia, Castile-La Mancha and Extremadura. The association also communicates on the social and environmental benefits of organic farming, organizing broadcasting campaigns and promoting initiatives aimed at the youth such as workshops for young people or Summer Camps for younger children, combining recreational activities with educational ones and organic meals. CAAE supports the producers and the industrial organic sector, highlighting them as best allies to mitigate climate change effects. It also fosters biodiversity through projects like the Diversification of Agrarian Landscapes in Andalusia delivering organic plants and trees for more than 10 years in order to improve both the rural landscape and the sustainability of the farms.

Peru CAAE Project PhotoAt the international level, and for a few years now, CAAE is developing a cooperation project in Peru to boost the organic production with the aim to improve life conditions sustainably in less-favored communities. It also works together with Portugal with the objective to share experiences and technical knowledge with the organization of congresses on the inter-relation between preservation of the environment and organic farming.

Among other activities, the association also promotes organic food and studies related to that sector, publishes scientific, technical and informative material and collaborates with other entities in the organization of events for the dissemination of information on the sustainable water management in organic production, benefits of the organic production methods to address climate change, use of renewable energies, responsible consumption, etc. Besides, CAAE makes proposals and provides assessment on organic production and sustainability, signing cooperation agreements at all levels.

CAAE Photo 2Lots of companies registered in the CAAE Association are pioneers in sustainable initiatives linked to the use of clean energies, sustainable management of water or energy use, promotion of biodiversity, organic tourism, recycling, compost, bio-construction, etc. sharing their experiences in forums and conferences.

CAAE’s key message to Rio+20 would be that cooperation between organizations, when focusing on common objectives, provides very positive synergies. That kind of collaboration is the direction to take in order to obtain more and better results regarding sustainability and all related issues.

CAAE Association

Apr 02

Avalon Foundation: New Thracian Gold

Avalon sends the lantern and a message to RIO+20

Last year Betty Vassilievi, farmer in the village of Gorno Pole in the Eastern Rhodopi Mountains of Bulgaria, announced that she and her husband Nikki planned to expand their bed and breakfast facilities to four rooms,  a dining room and a kitchen. “We have also broadened our activity programme for the tourists with horse riding, nature walks and boat trips. Another important aspect of our sustainable B&B is that we grow our own organic food and maintain a herd of Rhodope Shorthorn cattle.”

Three years ago the New Thracian Gold project started in the beautiful Eastern Rhodopes with its high nature values and up to then rather limited economic opportunities. The foundations Ark (nature management ) and Avalon (organic farming)  are supporting the local population with the:

  • Reintroduction of local endangered grazers  to preserve the characteristic half-open landscapes, precondition for a wide variety of wild flora and fauna;
  • Development of organic farming, beneficial to the preservation of the natural landscape, while at the same time providing a better margin for the farmers and attracting tourists to the region;
  • Support for sustainable tourist activities, aiming at the group of tourists who like rugged surroundings, stunning nature and a good organic meal.

Within a couple of years this approach will start to prove its value. Young couples like Betty and Nikki have found an alternative way to add to their income as farmers.  As a result they will be less tempted to move to the city (with possible uncertain economic perspectives), and will continue their extensive farming practices, which in turn are essential for the preservation of this unique mountain area. The downward spiral of depopulation,  land abandonment, forest encroachment and decrease of biodiversity can be reversed.  After a number of years the region will be able to sustain itself through this new economic concept where organic farming, nature conservation and sustainable tourism work in synergy to the benefit  of its inhabitants and the local economy. In the region where the Thracians used to forge their beautiful golden jewelry many centuries ago, now seeds of a different but sustainable prosperity are being sown.

In developing economies all over the world there are regions where agricultural production is limited and nature values are high. In many of these regions similar concepts can be developed.

Avalon has been an active member of IFOAM since its establishment in 1991. It services a network of 180 organisations in over thirty countries. With these partners it has implemented over a hundred small and large projects on the cutting edge of organic farming and nature conservation. Avalon strongly believes that new alliances need to be forged to further strengthen the organic movement. It wants to contribute to a real paradigm shift on food and agriculture both in policy and practice. Alliances where values converge can contribute to this paradigm shift. Organisations for nature conservation, biodiversity, health, food security,  environment, climate solutions, animal rights, slow/local/urban food, fair trade and gender issues  are all logical potential allies. In this light organic farming is not a goal in itself, but will prove to be an important instrument towards this much needed multi-value paradigm shift.

Martien Lankester
Executive Director Avalon