The BvAT Executive Director, Dr. David Amudavi, attended a 3-day IFOAM World Board meeting and IFOAM Action Group Networking meeting and thereafter raised the flag of the African Union-led EOA Initiative at the 3-day Asian Local Governments for Organic Agriculture (ALGOA)+4 International conference (18-20 September 2019) which brought together more than 150 participants from over all the continents- the first time ALGOA has gone global. ALGOA is a sub-organization of IFOAM Asia and works with over two hundred local governments in Asia to promote the expansion of organic agriculture. The ALGOA project was first initiated by IFOAM Asia in 2013 under the concept of linking bio-villages / eco-villages in India, Korea and the Philippines. ALGOA was officially inaugurated on September 19th, 2015, in Goesan County, Chungbuk Province, South Korea. The annual ALGOA Summit is a gathering of representatives from local governments, IFOAM members and other stakeholders in the region to share and exchange best practice and to discuss ways to enhance government action, support and policy to foster growth in the organic sector. The conference was officially opened by Mr. Lee Cha Yong, Mayor of Goesan County and President of ALGOA.
Mr. Lee Cha Yong, Mayor of Goesan County and President of ALGOA, making speech and with delegates
Dr. Amudavi made a comprehensive presentation of the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) Initiative under the session on Government Policies in Support of Organic Agriculture tracing implementation status of the decision by the Heads of States and Government towards streamlining EOA into national, regional, and continental food production systems in Africa. The initiative is currently supported by the Swiss Government through its agency, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), Sida through Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) and European Union through the Africa Union and implemented in 9 African countries. He explained why focus should be on EOA as potentially responsive to addressing some of the challenges facing communities locally to globally, the initiative’s strategic focus, the implementation pillar design, and management and governance of the initiative. David mentioned a new initiative aligned with EOA, the Knowledge Centres for Organic Agriculture in Africa (KCOA) supported by the German Government through GIZ whose main objective is to see that Knowledge hubs are successfully implemented as an innovative strategy for promoting organic agriculture with actors in the regions of West, East and Southern Africa. David further shared some key findings from an exploratory multi- country assessment conducted in September and October 2018 to identify factors that facilitate or hinder policy formulation processes in ecological organic agriculture (EOA) in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. The Ugandan Cabinet recently (end of July 2019) approved the Organic Agriculture policy, which is a huge achievement and example to other countries in the region.
Dr. David shared six main challenges that need to be addressed in the areas of promoting policies geared towards supporting the organic agriculture sector including generating evidence-based research findings – to support uptake, policy and advocacy against pressure from multinational corporations, limited access to certified organic inputs by establishing a steady production and availability of inputs, reaching the education and extension systems to address the limited knowledge and technical expertise of best practice and management for organic practices (soil fertility, weed control, pest or disease control), promoting and expanding grassroots implementation to overcome weak by participation of small holder farmers and youth, targeting multilevel and multistakeholder awareness creation and raising, and strengthening and sustaining Advocacy to achieve political will and support.
Reference was made to the communique arising from the recently successful first Agrocecology conference held in June in Nairobi jointly by Biovision Africa Trust, World Food Preservation Center LLC and IFOAM Organics with the theme: Reducing Synthetic Fertilizers and Pesticides by Scaling up Agroecology and Promoting Ecological Organic Trade. The communique provides a powerful message for advocacy and strategies and capabilities are needed to move the 6 six points into action.
Underpinning the conference theme was a recognition of broad consensus that current food production and consumption need to change in response to addressing global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty. Further, policies unarguably play a crucial role either as drivers or impediments to this change depending on their purpose and implementation. Encouragingly, various positive examples of local, national and regional policies aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are rapidly increasing.
In this Summit, policy makers, practitioners and renown experts from across the globe shared best and inspiring practices in agriculture-related policy making and identified ways to advance policy development and implementation. The Summit was held in combination with the International Summit on Organic Food Systems and the Goesan County Organic Festival.
Representatives from international agencies such as the FAO, local and foreign governments graced the historic occasion. The IFOAM-Organics International and IFOAM Asia board were present as well as representatives from the regional bodies including the farmer-representatives from the Intercontinental Network of Organic Farming Organizations (INOFO). The representatives from local governments in Asia, and particularly the Mayors was quite encouraging.
The organic agriculture policy part had five sessions 1: Policies for transformational change in agriculture; Government policies in support of organic agriculture; Best practices of local government initiatives in Korea; What governments can do to drive change; and Ways forward in working for better policies. The International Summit on Organic Food Systems (OFS) had a stimulating keynote address by André Leu, International Director of Regeneration International on ‘Organic 3.0 to Regenerative Agriculture: The connection between regenerative agriculture and organic/sustainable food system approaches.’ André emphasized the need for developing sustainable food systems, that are inclusive, resilient, safe and diverse and provide healthy and affordable food while minimizing waste and adapting to / mitigating climate change impacts. The conference covered three main sections: OFS as models for food system transformation; The role of OFS key actors with three PhD student presentations; and Food system transformation. The final session had Fishbowl wrap-up on Food system transformation – how OFS may contribute, especially in Asia and Dr. David Amudavi was one of the panellists to contribute to this session.
To take organic agriculture to another level the Mayor of Goesan County, Mr. Lee Cha Yong in his message, announced that the Goesan County plans to host the 2022 Goesan World Organic Industry Expo from Sep. 2nd ~ 18th, 2022 (17 days) at Goesan Expo Park supported by IFOAM, Goesan County and Chungbuk Province at a budget of 13 million USD. The event will cover various theme exhibitions, organic trade expo and organic market, special exhibitions, organic industry exhibition, international conference, organic farm and various experiences and performances.
The closing ceremony witnessed by the Goesan County Mayor saw the nomination of new ALGOA Ambassadors, Conference wrap-up and Adoption of the Conference Declaration by Members of the Organic Youth Forum and Closing Remarks by Dr. Zhou Zejiang (President, IFOAM Asia).