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Media release November 30, 2015

First meeting of National Organic Research Forum at FiBL: Combining research and practice

The purpose of the National Organic Research Forum (NBFF) is to recognise practical research needs and key research areas of organic agriculture. Experts from Swiss organic research and practice are part of the NBFF, which is supported by the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Bio Suisse and Agroscope. The forum’s first meeting in Frick in November was dedicated to the dialogue between research and practice in organic agriculture.

First meeting of the National Organic Research Forum (NBFF) at the FiBL in Frick. Photo: Franziska Hämmerli, FiBL

Exchanging ideas at the first NBFF meeting. Photo: Franziska Hämmerli, FiBL

Practitioners and researchers gathered around the same table. Photo: Franziska Hämmerli, FiBL

"Regular exchange between research and practice has a long-standing tradition in organic agriculture. Thanks to the National Organic Research Forum, this exchange will increase," Urs Niggli, the Director of FiBL, explained. The NBFF consists of researchers, advisors, farmers and governmental offices.

Well connected to practice

The NBFF combines organisations with expertise in organic agriculture. Its main goal is to enhance the exchange of information between research and the organic sector.

The forum is now targeting the whole of Switzerland and combines the most important suppliers and users of organic research. Bio Suisse now also plays an active role and enables a stronger connection to the practical side through their expert groups. Paul Steffen, the Head of the Agroscope Institute for Sustainability Sciences ISS, explains that "thanks to a stronger collaboration among the actors, organic research in Switzerland will gain a lot more momentum and can better adjust its agenda to the needs of the organic sector." This new stakeholder platform replaces the committee formed by Agroscope and FiBL as well as the now disbanded "ART Bio Forum Ackerbau/Futterbau".

"One of the main reasons why Bio Suisse will take part in the dialogue with researchers is the key role of practice," Daniel Bärtschi, the CEO of Bio Suisse explained. The views of researchers and practitioners on research challenges often differ. Patricia Fry, expert on knowledge transfer between research and practice, examined the reasons why researchers and practitioners often talk at cross purposes. Together with the participants, she highlighted obstacles and chances for success within a discourse between researchers and practitioners. The results showed that projects were most successful when the practical side is involved from the very beginning.

National Organic Research Conference 2016

Workshops on crop production, animal husbandry and socio-economics gave new insights to the research institutes for use in their work plan. The NBFF is planning various activities for 2016, e.g. a national organic research conference in December, where current research results will be discussed.
Back in August 2015, the Federal Office for Agriculture FOA and Agroscope signed a framework contract with FiBL to strengthen national and international collaboration on research questions in organic agriculture.

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