Tag Archive: people

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

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

Aug 17

Biosun Certifier: Passengers, all aboard!

It is with our utmost excitement and pleasure to seize the opportunity in such allegory of grace and beauty on the wings of Organic Agriculture, flying to the sustainable livelihoods. Development in every dynamic society such as the I.R. Iran even at the beginning of the organic way and organic movement is indispensable event many challenges still lay ahead and it takes heroic innovations to overcome them. Awareness to the organic farming and organic products is growing rapidly in Iran. Both governmental and private authorities are trying to enhance organic chains in the country. Iran, because of different climatic conditions has a good potential to produce different kinds of agricultural products which are mainly Saffron, Figs, Grapes, Citrus, Date Palm, Pomegranate, Almonds, Pistachio, Walnuts, wild collection of medicinal and ornamental plants and all other crop plants. In most cases, traditional agriculture in Iran is a kind of non-certified organic (neglected organic production) because most of  the practices and processes in these agro ecosystem are compatible with organic agriculture. Many farmers in Iran do not use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Then, it caused that Iran’s land for agriculture is not too much contaminated with agrochemicals.

Results of Rio+20 can and should be the stop en route to the perspective horizons of sustainability, where bright spots become recognized and a clear pathway paved for the future generations of every entity on earth. We do believe that Organic does imitate nature and there should be no boundaries or barriers if we are destined to preserve the integrity of our planet. None of the expecting conditions of sustainability are beyond the technical or resource reach of our societies if we listen to the whispers of every beating heart, appreciating the giving hands and cherishing the talented bright minds. Let organic becomes the journey, beginning in delight and ending in wisdom.

Together we stand, divided we fall and the spirit should carry on.

Biosun Certifier

Jun 27

El Rincón Orgánico: Civil society organizations have to lead

23 years ago, El Rincón Orgánico started with the principle that one should first feed your own home and then the world. The organic sector in Argentina has been mainly dedicated to exports of food to the main consumer markets, that is why María Calzada and Pipo Lernoud founded the distribution scheme and the shop. At the beginning the idea was to get organic products for their family and friends. By that time they were producing squashes and cereals for the global market and some veggies for their own consumption. But as conventional agriculture started to be seen as increasingly toxic, the demand for better products grew. María started to contact all the local organic producers and coordinate a supply of their products. And the local market started to appear. After two decades of knocking door to door offering organic, fresh and local produce, we have an increasing organic local market with groceries, restaurants, markets, specialized stores.

All these experiences teach us that biggest changes comes from the grassroots, when people get together under one same aim. We understood we couldn’t wait for the institutions to make the first step, civil society needs to lead the change. This is a crucial point for international conferences, such as Rio+20, where the most important actions and results are the ones that come from the people. Today climate change, world hunger, deficient health and education systems are facts that everybody can acknowledge, and we shouldn’t wait any longer for others to take action. Civil society organizations have to lead.

That is why we are pleased to be part of the big family that is the organic movement and to cooperate with IFOAM in working for the world we all want. Much was achieved in these 40 years, and that shows the importance of collective effort, as one IFOAM annual report stated: “One World, Many Hands”.

As members of this big family, we believe that part of our daily work is to promote this philosophy. That’s the reason why El Rincón Orgánico continues organizing public events and free seminars, and trying to get involved in places we have never been, like rock concerts and film festivals, to bring organic lifestyle to the whole world. We encourage all IFOAM members to take action and help IFOAM to take organic to the next level.

Julia Lernoud
El Rincón Orgánico

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