Tag Archive: smallholders

Dec 10

Ganja Agribusiness Association, a Promoter of Organic Agriculture in Azerbaijan


Ganja Agribusiness Association (GABA), located in Ganja, Azerbaijan, is a national non-governmental organization whose mission is to promote sustainable development of the country’s agrarian sector through human potential development, knowledge and resource transfer. GABA has supported small-enterprise development in Azerbaijan since 1999 by means of building the capacity of targeted entrepreneurs with the purpose of their effective social and economic growth through training, information support and resource mobilization.

GABA was subsequently founded by those scientists who assisted the newly formed government in agrarian reform and the division of Azerbaijan’s agricultural land. A predecessor organization was first formed in 1996 by these leading scientists. Three years later, working with the Eurasia Foundation and funded by USAID, Ganja Agribusiness Association was created; one year later it was registered by the Minister of Justice of Azerbaijan.

GABA is the primary organization in Azerbaijan promoting organic agriculture. In the year 2000, GABA assumed a leadership position by initiating the promotion of organic agriculture. Organic agriculture came in response to environmental issues as well as to the fact that Azerbaijani farmers were still suffering from the reorientation and restructuring process – the conversion of the land from the collective farms to individually owned land in 1996.  Access to farm resources especially fertilizers, pesticides, and veterinary products were difficult to obtain and/or expensive. Organic agriculture provided an option for the Azerbaijani farmers to develop a sustainable agriculture production system in an environmentally supportive and economically sound way.  Since its initiation in 2000, more than 2000 farmers have been trained in organic agricultural methods and 332 have advanced to the stage of applying for organic certification of their products. The last several years have been very productive for GABA’s organic initiative, multiple organic agriculture projects were initiated in 2004, GABA initiated the study of Organic Agriculture Management at the Azerbaijan State Agrarian University, and the organic certification body AZEKOSERT and soil laboratory were established in 2006.

GABA is Azerbaijan’s first NGO to pursue this quality management system. On August 13, 2010, GABA was notified that Swiss certification body SGS had certified GABA under ISO 9001-2008 system of certification.




Oct 24

IDEAL Providence Farms: Be Open for any Improvement towards Organic Development

I, Georgina Komsoon, was greatly honoured to participate as a representative for Africa within the IFOAM-INOFO delegation at the UNSCF. My expectations were very high and the presentation and results of Rio + 20 show that ORGANIC Farming and the way of life has a future. This gives me hope. For me, my family, my sisters and brothers (not only) in Africa.

I will try my very best to transmit the lesson learned as soon as possible and to as many farmers as possible here in Ghana and especially to the groups of women to whom I cooperate. Only our common efforts on the working level can bring the necessary bottom-up change. And if the political level participates, it is even better.

To accelerate the organic movement we have to engage in a stronger way women and young people. Especially the young people believe that their future is in the urban areas and not in the rural area.

May I introduce to you one member – Akua Siedu – of the women group I work together with and who is now the supervisor in the processing of the organic shea butter.  Few years ago she could not even afford to pay her children’s school fee. But today, due to the economic progress the group has made within the project, she is able to put up the livelihood for her family and herself. And this is not common for the Muslim communities in the rural areas in northern Ghana. She never went to school (which is also common in the rural area and especially for a girl) but she can write and read. She was trained as much as possible and today she understands the principles of organic farming and the importance of sustainable agriculture.

Akua Siedu: Georgina explained to us the targets of RIO+20. Even if Brazil is far away, we in the rural area of the northern Ghana will be affected by the results of this conference. For communities like ours, living in a subsistence economy, it is important if the results are positive or negative. The information we got concerning food security, improving local seeds for better food, improving the production and the conservation of local food for more health and nutrition were very helpful for us. It will also contribute to the improvement of the environment.

Georgina Koomson
IDEAL Providence Farms

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

Mar 22

ICEA: Inclusive Partnerships for Sustainable Livelihoods

A livelihood is sustainable when it can cope with and recover from stress and shocks, maintain or enhance its capabilities and assets, when it contributes a net benefit to other livelihoods at the local and global level and, in the short and the long term, when it provides sustainable livelihood opportunities for the next generations

R. Chambers, 1991

According to ICEA, Organic Agriculture can contribute to meaningful socio-economic and ecological sustainable development of the livelihood, both in the developed countries than in developing ones.

Starting from its historical experience in the Italian organic movement, ICEA moved toward a daring and challenging sector that is international cooperation, offering its expertise in organizing sound and sustainable value chains for smallholders producing organic crops around the world.

ICEA has been working in order to promote a kind of organic and ethic certification tailored in the most appropriate form to the project stakeholders (e.g. Group Certification; Internal Control System, Participatory Guarantee Systems); and proposed a diverse range of certification schemes  (e.g. Fairtrade; Eco Tourism; Corporate Social Responsibility; Organic Aquaculture, Cosmetic and Textiles, etc.).

ICEA arose from Italian farmers experience, but is now operating worldwide in diverse contexts trying to apply always the same guiding principles about sustainable livelihoods: to be holistic; to be people-focused; to encourage broad partnerships; to promote micro-macro linkages.

An example of this fruitful approach is represented by the recent membership of the Ecuadorian FECD – Fondo Ecuatoriano de Cooperación para el Desarrollo – who has joined the ICEA consortium in 2011. FECD has a long lasting experience in Ecuador promoting and implementing sustainable development related activities, with a specific focus on the livelihoods of smallholder producers adopting organic agriculture. FECD works with an innovative approach for the implementation of its projects, putting emphasis on the “human side” of the entire process, from production to certification; actually FECD is using in all its activities the “focusing” approach, a methodology derived from psychotherapy and has adapted it for the management of non-profit organizations.

Following this methodology, ICEA and FECD are collaborating to develop joint cooperation initiatives, based on organic standards promotion, in Latin American Countries; furthermore they became technical partners of the new Ecuadorian certification body, named ICEA ECUADOR.

Taking into account this successful story with Ecuador, ICEA’s key message to RIO+20 would be to encourage the creation of broad and inclusive partnerships amongst different stakeholders, aiming at enhancing livelihoods and facing the problems connected to rural poverty eradication, sustainable agricultural development and food security.

Chiara Scaraggi and Michele Maccari
International Cooperation Projects
ICEA – Istituto per la Certificazione Etica ed Ambientale


Feb 27

ILEIA: Small-scale Farmers Deserve Recognition!

A few years ago I had a series of interesting discussions with small-scale farm families in South India who had shifted from conventional to organic cotton production. I asked them what the most significant changes were which they had experienced. There were some remarkable answers. One woman farmer said: “Since the pesticides have left our house we can sleep peacefully. There is no more harassment from the pesticides dealer who comes in the night to collect his money”. Another woman explained: “Now that the cotton is grown organically, we can intercrop it with sorghum and vegetables for home consumption. Finally we can eat our own vegetables”. A farm labourer calculated that by working on an organic cotton farm she would spend Rs 3,000 less per year on hospital bills, and would earn 10 “extra” days of income because she did not fall sick any more due to over-exposure to pesticides. These women told in very concrete terms what sustainable farming means to them: it is about human dignity and peace of mind, about growing and eating your own food, and about healthy working conditions. And of course it is about earning a reasonable income, as the male farmers emphasised. The shift from non-sustainable to sustainable farming can literally mean the difference between misery and a decent life.

Photo_ILEIA_1Sustainable family farming is not only the way forward to these Indian cotton farmers, it is a possible future for 400 million small-scale farmers – and it is essential for the future of our planet. By facilitating the exchange of concrete experiences world wide, ILEIA and its AgriCultures Network partners in Latin America, Africa and Asia have contributed to an increased awareness and conviction, at local and global levels, that sustainable family farming is part of the solution (we use the word “sustainable” as we want to include all forms of agriculture that respect people and nature, even though they may not be strictly organic). Over the past decades we have collected, published and shared several thousands of experiences, and the body of knowledge on sustainable farming continues to grow every day. It forms a living testimony of the wisdom and resilience of family farmers around the world. Our key message to Rio therefore is: Sustainable family farming deserves recognition.

While many policymakers still believe that family farming is inefficient and something of the past, things are beginning to change. There is a growing consensus among farmers’ and civil society organizations and among scientists and influential actors within the UN institutions that sustainable family farming means better livelihoods for millions of people in the rural areas, and is also key to the future of the planet. The paradigm shift that has been called for is on its way as many millions of farmers are already practicing and developing sustainable methods every day. But it needs to be completed and there are major obstacles to be removed. IFOAM plays a very important role in this process of building a growing and inclusive organic+ movement. Let’s join forces on the way to Rio, and beyond.

Edith van Walsum
ILEIA – Centre for Learning on Sustainable Agriculture