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Pre-conference at the Organic World Congress 2017: "Accelerating innovation - the role of science, policy and practice"



Organic food and farming systems have great potential to meet global challenges – such as population growth, climate change, environmental pollution and deterioration of natural resources – while being economically attractive to farmers. However, organic food and farming systemsremain a niche category with less than one percent of the global farmland certified, and only a small share of the global population consuming organic produce. Today, many research institutes and scientists in low- and middle-income countries working on novel knowledge and techniques of organic systems are facing challenges, and more resource allocation to these areas is needed. Furthermore, organic food and farming systemsare not considered in the context of international research for development, and there is a growing disparity between smallholder/family farms and industrialised production within organic food and farming systems.


The main objective of this event is to offer a common platform for dialogue between science, policy and practice. In other words, this event will aim at initiating the development of scientifically informed policy for practice oriented solutions. A series of talks by national and international leaders from the fields of science and policy will prepare the floor for a moderated panel discussion addressing challenges and opportunities of science and policy to transform food systems. The event will explore the potential of innovation platforms to accelerate innovation in OFFS in the current science and policy landscapes of India and other countries of the global South. The afternoon will be dedicated more specifically to innovation platforms; after a conceptual input, hands-on examples from India are going to set the scene for a 2-hour workshop with all participants. The targeted outcome of the event is a concept and compilation of success stories of bringing about innovation through transdisciplinary processes, and a collection of the most suitable approaches to facilitate such processes in various local contexts. These results will be converted to policy briefs which will be used to initiate the mentioned processes in India and other countries of the global South.


This event will be organized as a full-day pre-conference. After high-level representatives from the Agricultural Policy Commission and the Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board of the Government of India, as well as the representatives of Swiss authorities will have prepared the floor, thought-provoking speakers will present visionary inputs which are currently being developed at the forefront of respective UN bodies and the global organic community. The series of talks will be concluded by exemplars of innovation platforms which have been working and producing tangible results for nearly a decade in India. These contributions will provide the basis for a moderated panel discussion. The afternoon will comprise of a workshop specifically dedicated to innovation platforms (see above). Lunch will be provided, and a limited number of sponsorships are available, mainly for participants from countries with a low to medium Human Development Index. Please contact christian.andres(at) for sponsorships.

Furter information

Names and affiliations of organizers

  • Urs Niggli, Director Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), President Technology Innovation Platform of IFOAM – Organics International (TIPI)
  • Gurbir Singh Bhullar, Senior Scientist and Program Leader, SysCom Program, FiBL
  • Amritbir Riar, Research Scientist, SysCom India, FiBL
  • Brian Baker, Principal Belcairn Concerns & TIPI Council Member
  • Christian Andres, Research Scientist & Coordinator, FiBL & TIPI


Tentative programm

Morning: "Science & Policy" (moderated by Dr Gurbir Singh Bhullar)

  • 09:00 – 09:30 Opening address
    Prof Ramesh Chand, Member, NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), Government of India (GOI)
  • 09:30 – 09:50 Policy for scientific capacity building in India
    Dr Gurbachan Singh, Chairman, Agricultural Scientists Recruitment Board, New Delhi, GOI
  • 09:50 – 10:10 Swiss support in research for development in India
    Representative (tbc), SDC/Swiss embassy to India, Government of Switzerland
  • 10:10 – 10:30 Policy for development – UN perspective for developing countries
    Representative (tbc), FAO, United Nations
  • 10:30 – 11:00 Coffee break
  • 11:00 – 11:30 Global vision and strategy for organic farming research
    Prof Dr Urs Niggli, Director, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Frick, Switzerland
  • 11:30 – 12:00 What can organic agriculture contribute to sustainable development in the tropics?
    Findings from a long-term farming systems comparison program (SysCom).
    Gurbir Singh Bhullar, Senior Scientist & Coordinator, FiBL, Frick, Switzerland
  • 12:00 – 13:00     Panel discussion – "Science & Policy to transform food systems – challenges & opportunities"
    Moderated by Dr Brian Baker, Principal Belcairn Concerns & TIPI Council Member
  • 13:00 – 14:00 Lunch

Afternoon: "The role of innovation platforms to accelerate innovation"

(moderated by Christian Andres and Dr Amritbir Singh Riar)

  • 14:00 – 14:30 Role of innovation platforms & participatory research in agricultural development in India
    Dr Randhir S. Poswal, Assistant Director General Agriculture Extension, ICAR, New Delhi, India
  • 14:30 – 14:50 Innovation platforms – Definition & lessons learnt for the organic industry from OECD reviews
    Representative (tbc), OECD, Paris, France
  • 14:50 – 15:10 Systems approaches to agricultural innovation – Lessons from Africa
    Dr Marc Schut, Social Scientist, IITA & Wageningen University, Kigali, Rwanda
  • 15:10 – 15:30 MilkIT innovation platform: changing women’s lives in the foothills of India’s Himalaya
    Thanammal Ravichandran, Research Fellow, ILRI, Hyderabad, India
  • 15:30 – 16:00     Coffee break
  • 16:00 – 17:30 Workshop – "How can we accelerate innovation in organic food and farming systems?"
    Moderated by Dr Andrew Hammermeister, Director Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada (OACC) & TIPI Council Member
  • 17:30 – 18:00 Synthesis and pre-conference closing
    Prof Dr Gabi Soto, Member of IFOAM World Board of Directors & TIPI Council Member
  • 18:15 – 19:45 TIPI membership assembly
  • 20:00 – 21:30 OFIA reception and dinner