The Committee on World Food Security of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is meeting in Rome to discuss a host of issues, including the presentation of the Mid-Term Review of Achieving the World Food Summit Target, which concludes that practically no progress has been made since its establishment in 1992. Taking a solutions-oriented approach, a side event organized by IFOAM in the FAO Headquarters drew attention to the potential of Organic Agriculture for achieving global food security.
Mr. John Bosco Mugisha opened the side event by presenting the successful work of the Export Promotion of Organic Products from Africa (EPOPA) project, which began in 1994 as a program of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). EPOPA aims to provide African smallholder farmers a better livelihood through the development of local and international organic markets. The increase in agricultural production benefits rural communities, and thus the farmers. Through the projects - that reaches more than 30,000 smallholder farmers - the agricultural sector, particularly in Tanzania and Uganda, is constantly exposed to innovative and environmentally sound organic farming techniques, leading to abundant local spin off developments.
Thomas Rath from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) presented the evaluations IFAD has undertaken on the impact of organic agriculture on poverty alleviation. The evaluations show that Organic Agriculture is a promising alternative for small farmers, and that in almost all of the countries where the evaluations were carried out, small farmers needed only marginal improvements to their technologies to make the shift to organic production.
Ms. Patrizia Sentinelli, Italian Vice-minister of foreign affairs explained her view on Organic Agriculture and local development in the international cooperation.
Mr. Alexander Müller, Assistant Director-General of FAO said that many countries request FAO's assistance to develop Organic Agriculture. He says that "there is a need to shed light on the contribution of Organic Agriculture to food security, so that FAO can provide objective and informed advice to its member countries. Thus, FAO plans to hold in 2007 an international conference on Organic Agriculture and food security." The conference aims to identify Organic Agriculture’s potential and limits to the food security challenge, including conditions required for its success. The report of the conference will be submitted to the 2007 Session of the Committee on World Food Security.
Mette Meldgaard, IFOAM’s Vice President notes "The major constraints to achieving universal food security are found in social, economic and political conditions, more than in problems regarding agricultural productive capacity. One of the most important factors for poverty alleviation is Rural Development. Organic Agriculture, based on the Principles of Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care, is the more advanced tool for Rural Development," and concerning the announcement of Müller said "We are glad that the planned FAO conference provides for an opportunity to show Organic Agriculture’s potential."