After a welcome speech by FiBL director Dr Urs Niggli, the deputy mayor Zhang Congyu gave a brief introduction on Xiangyang city and the Organic Valley, with an emphasis on the local governmental support to the substantial agricultural development. Timo Stadtlander, from the Department of Livestock Sciences at FiBL, gave a presentation on "Sustainable and integrated aquaculture, fish nutrition and health", before the group was led through the FiBL facilities and organic experimental farms by Hans-Jakob Schärer. The guests also visited the soil and animal labs, guided by Anton Kuhn and Timo Stadtlander.
After the tour, FiBL and the Xiangyang City Government signed an agreement on establishing an expert workstation at the Organic Valley Support Center in 2018. FiBL will comprehensively investigate and study the specific conditions in the Organic Valley and provide adequate technical support to assist in the reliable processing of organic products. The local farmers, farmer cooperatives and family farm owners in Xiangyang will be technically trained by FiBL experts. There will also be a chance for local farmers to visit organic farms in Switzerland and take training courses.
Both parties believe that sustainable organic farming concepts will be widely accepted based on strong technical gains and business model optimization. The Organic Valley anticipates that the acquired know-how from the collaboration will help in the establishment of international best practice in organic agriculture as a stepping stone for international marketing and certification. Also, it will be beneficial for FiBL to expand its expertise and practice in organic agriculture on a larger scope.