“Governments are Starting to See that Organic Food Policy Works”

According to ‘The World State of Agriculture 2018’, India is
the country with the highest number of organic producers (835’000).
This is a woman cultivating her tea plantation in the southwestern
Indian state of Kerala. Credit: Ilaria Cecilia/IPS

By Maged Srour
ROME, Oct 31 2018 (IPS)

Many countries and farmers around the world are not readily
making the switch to organic farming. But the small Himalayan
mountain state of Sikkim, which borders Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan, is
the first 100 percent organic farming state in the world. 

Earlier this month, Sikkim, won the Future Policy Award 2018
(FPA) for being the first state in the world to declare itself, in
2015, 100 percent organic.

Its path towards becoming completely organic started in 2003,
when Chief Minister Pawan Chamling announced the political vision
to make Sikkim “the first organic state of India”.

The FPA, also known as the ‘Oscar for Best Policies’ is
organised every year by the World
Future Council (WFC)
. The aim of the FPA is to investigate
solutions to the challenges in today’s world. The WFC looks at
which policies have a holistic and long-term outlook, and which
protect the rights of future generations. And once a year the WFC
awards showcases the very best of them.

This year, in cooperation with IFOAM-Organics International (IFOAM)
and the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
, the FPA decided to
focus on the best policies to scale up agroecology.

In 2004, one year after the vision was announced, Sikkim adopted
its
Policy on Organic Farming
and in 2010, the state launched the
Organic Mission, an action plan to implement the policy. In 2015,
thanks to strong political coherence and strategy planning, the
goal was achieved.

Among the noteworthy measures adopted by Sikkim during that
decade, the fact that 80 percent of the budget between 2010 and
2014 was intended to build the capacity of farmers, rural service
providers and certification bodies. The budget also supported
farmers in acquiring certifications, and had various measures to
provide farmers with quality organic seeds.

Best practices on agroecology: Denmark’s Organic
Action Plan

The WFC has also rewarded other government policies with Silver
Awards, Vision Awards and Honourable Mentions. Among the Silver
awardees was Denmark’s Organic Action Plan, which has
become a popular policy planning tool in European countries over
the last decade.

Almost 80 percent of Danes purchase organic food and today the
country has the highest organic market share in the world (13
percent).

“What has made Danish consumers among the most enthusiastic
organic consumers [in the world], is that we have done a lot of
consumer information and we have worked strategically with the
supermarkets to place organics as part of their strategy to appeal
to consumers on the value of food, putting more value into food
through organics,” Paul Holmbeck, Political Director of
‘Organic Denmark’, told IPS.

The importance of being organic and agroecological

The policies of Sikkim and Denmark, as well as those of Ecuador
and Brazil — countries that also received Silver Awards — are
steps towards a world where agroecology becomes widespread and
practiced globally. In fact, to conceive cultivated land as
ecosystems themselves, in which every living and nonliving
component affects every other component, is vital to obtain not
only healthy and organic food, but also to preserve our
environment.

Indeed, it would be a mistake to think that having organic
products on our tables necessarily means having solved all problems
related to intensive agriculture and to the damages on the
environment.

“Agroecology is one approach that applies ecological concepts
and principles to food and farm systems, focusing on the
interaction between micro-organisms, plants, animals, humans and
the environment, to foster sustainable agriculture development, in
order to ensure food security and nutrition for all, now and in the
future,” Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director General, told
IPS. “It is based on co-creation of knowledge, sharing and
innovation, combining local, traditional, indigenous practices with
multi-disciplinary science.”

Emerging trends on organic

According to the report,
The World of Organic Agriculture 2018 – Statistics and Emerging
Trends
, released earlier this year and authored by the Research Institute of
Organic Agriculture (FiBL
) and IFOAM, 57.8 million hectares
(ha) worldwide were farmed organically in 2016. This is an increase
of 7.5 million ha (or 13 percent) compared to the previous
year.

In 2016, the share of land dedicated to organic farmland
increased across the globe: Europe (6.7 percent increase), Asia (34
percent increase), Africa (7 percent increase), Latin America (6
percent increase), North America (5 percent increase).

Australia had the largest agricultural area farmed organically
(27.2 million ha), followed by Argentina (3 million ha), and China
(2.3 million ha).

In 2016, there were 2.7 million organic farmers. Around 40
percent of whom live in Asia, followed by Africa (27 percent) and
Latin America (17 percent).

According to the report, the total area devoted in Asia to
organic agriculture was almost 4.9 million ha in 2016 and there
were 1.1 million organic producers in the region, with India being
the country with the highest number of organic producers
(835,000).

So the success of Sikkim is not surprising considering that the
Asian continent can be considered among the regions at the
forefront of organic production.

Perspectives about the
future

However, favouring the scale up of agroecology, which includes
producing organic products, is unfortunately not that simple.

“To harness the multiple sustainability benefits that arise
from agroecological approaches, as enabling environment is
required, including adapted policies, public investments,
institutions and research priorities,” said Semedo.  “However,
this is not yet a reality in the majority of countries.”

Indeed, poverty, malnutrition, unfair distribution of wealth,
decreasing of biodiversity, deterioration of natural resources like
soil and water, and climate change are significant challenges in
most countries.

Agriculture will become one of the greatest challenges, if not
addressed properly. Therefore, moving towards more sustainable
agriculture and food systems is certainly a potential part of the
solution, not only for our health and wellness but for the planet
itself.

“It’s vital for everyone to be organic [and] for every
person to eat organic because otherwise people would eat poison and
basically writing a recipe for chronic diseases. It could be cancer
[as well as] neurological problems,” warned Vandana Shiva, a food
and agriculture expert and member of the WFC, told IPS during the
ceremony of the Future Policy Award 2018 at FAO headquarters in
Rome this October.

“Organic is the only living solution to climate change.
Chemical farming is a very big contributor to greenhouse gas
emissions but organic farming takes the excess carbon out of the
atmosphere and puts it in the soil,” she added.

However, there seems to be a large consensus with the fact that
the planet needs to move towards a more sustainable way of living
and this is a reason for optimism.

“I’m very optimistic about organics [because] we are
creating new solutions for climate and animal welfare,
sustainability and good soil every single day,” said Holmbeck.
“Governments are starting to see that organic food policy works:
it is good for farmers, for consumers and for the planet.”

The post
“Governments are Starting to See that Organic Food Policy
Works”
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
“Governments are Starting to See that Organic Food Policy Works”