BioFach - Day 1
There was also the opportunity to hear and be inspired by organic experts and decision makers on the future of organic, particularly in relation to how food security could be achieved for the almost seven billion people living on our planet.
The message in the opening ceremony was clear, organic farming can play a significant contribution to feeding the planet. Attendees from all parts of the world were challenged to take action to ensure a higher rate of food security for the future. There was also a clear message for countries relying predominantly on highly intensive agriculture, where chemicals are applied excessively to crops, to re-think their systems.
modern organic farming is the only thing that can feed the World
Katherine DiMatteo, president of IFOAM, set the scene with an attack on the path of agrarian development that most governments have chosen to take, namely the support of large scale or intensive conventional agriculture. This form of agriculture is based on a one-size-fits-all approach to farming, which ignores biodiversity, local knowledge, farmer livelihood requirements, and traditional food culture. According to DiMatteo, smallholder farming constitutes the ‘backbone of agriculture and food security’. They receive little policy attention and are sometimes actively discriminated against through for example land grabs. To DiMatteo, the key to reducing poverty and hunger in a socially and environmentally sustainable way lies in combining smallholder farming with the principles of organic agriculture. This is illustrated with an example of a project in West Africa where the skills, institutional capacity and product quality of 5000 farmers were improved and organic and fair trade certification was received. The results were a more varied diet, improved local food security and increased income.
Maria Rodale, Chairman and CEO of Rodale Inc. shared her opinion in the opening ceremony also that; ‘modern organic farming is the only thing that can feed the World’. She highlighted that as well as being inappropriate for our environment, agricultural chemicals could also be having a devastating effect on health; “they are systematic, they are inside our food, inside every aspect of our environment and inside our bodies’.
Through raising awareness of research from her organisation and others, she wants to ensure the profile of organic farming is raised and to challenge organisations where many chemical farmers, who have often been trained to believe organic farming is impossible, can be encouraged to see the benefits of organic farming and understand that it can be both more productive and profitable for them. To Rodale, it is essential that people experienced in producing organic food are willing to build relationships, share knowledge and, most importantly, lead by example.
Completed by: Leonardo van den Berg and Wendy Horsman