Hans Herren honoured at the 3rd African Organic Conference in Lagos

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The 3rd African Organic Conference with the theme “Achieving Social and Economic Development through Ecological and Organic Agricultural Alternatives has been successfully held in Lagos, Nigeria, from 5-9 October attended by 220 participants including 34 farmers, from 28 countries. Dr. Hans Herren, President of Millennium Institute in Washington DC, and Biovision Foundation of Switzerland was among the highly recognized personalities who have contributed positively and immensely to the sustainable ecological organic agriculture (EOA) in Africa.

Other Champions honoured included Dr. Sophia Twarog (UNCTAD, Switzerland) Dr. Mwatima Juma (Senior Programme Officer, IFAD and Chair of Tanzania Organic Agriculture Movement (TOAM), Tanzania), Prof. Raymond Auerbach (Nelson Mandela Metro University, South Africa), Rev. Fr. Godfrey Nzamujo (Founder of Songhai Centre, Benin), and two former Presidents of Nigeria, Chief Dr Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo and General Abdulsalam Abubakar.

The champions were selected based on criteria under four categories, namely: Government/Regional/Continental: Persons who have supported in enacting laws, developing policies, establishing institutions and structures and creating the enabling environment for EOA to strive; CSO/NGOs: Persons who have devoted significant amount of time and resources in advocating and creating awareness of EOA initiatives and fighting against initiatives that destroy the ecology; Research / Institutions: Persons who have devoted their resources to research and development of tools, techniques and strategies to solving and addressing challenges of EOA initiatives; and Players/Actors: Persons who have contributed to increase production, expansion of markets and the creating of jobs. They have also demonstrated through Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) to the development of EOA initiatives.

Dr. Herren was recognized for his support in the development and continued promotion of the Push-Pull Technology for maximum biological control of stemborer pests, parasitic weed Striga, and improving soil fertility, for leading the highly respected cross-sectoral and stakeholders’ global study, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development whose recommendations were signed by many African countries and that underpin the thrust of the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative for Africa, and for leading a new initiative, Changing Course in Global Agriculture (CCGA) with pilot work in three African countries (Ethiopia, Kenya and Senegal) aimed at supporting Governments develop appropriate policies in agriculture that link society, economy and environment. Hans Herren was also applauded for being the Founder Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT), which is one of the leading actors in driving the EOA initiative in Africa.

Presentations on various themes including principles, practices and prospects of EOA, research and technology issues and agenda, rights issues in agriculture, policies issues, markets and marketing of organic produce and products were made in the plenary by various speakers among them the representative of African Union Commission (Jonathan Ocran), President of African Organic Network (Jordan Gama), CEO of IIFOAM-Organics International (Markus Arbenz), Director of Biovision Africa Trust (Dr. David Amudavi), Representative of UNCTAD, Geneva Switzerland (Dr. Henrique Pacini), Representative of FiBL (Gian Nicolay), FAO Representative (Dr. Allison Loconto) and President of the International Society for Organic Agriculture Research (Prof. Dr. Gerold Rahmann, President). The Conference was also characterized by the African Organic Fair involving exhibitors from some countries in Africa. The Policy Forum bringing together government and private organizations within and outside Africa and Farmers' Forum with farmers from various countries in Africa (including a field trip) marked some of the highlights of the conference. The State Governor of Osun in Nigeria, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, announced donation of a piece of land for the Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (NOAN) for organic farming.

The Conference ended with a high level Declaration calling for concerted and increased efforts by governments, private sector, civil society, development partners and donors in terms of affirmations, commitments, and investments in mainstreaming EOA in country policies, investment plans and programmes.

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