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gian.nicolay(at)fibl.org

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Irene Kadzere
(Dr.)

Department of International Cooperation
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CH-5070 Frick

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Fax +41 (0)62 865-7273
irene.kadzere(at)fibl.org

The 3rd African Organic Conference held in Lagos consolidates the progress made on transforming the continental food and agriculture systems

A vibrant, fast-evolving, ecological and organic movement from Sub-Saharan Africa met with its partners and stakeholders in Lagos, Nigeria, for the third time since 2009. The movement connects with ecological and organic stakeholders and shows what strong links between farmers and researchers can achieve and how they can contribute to societal change. The only sub-region missing at this continental conference was Northern Africa.

Photo:noanigeria.net

(October 22, 2015) 

The African organic movement and its partners and stakeholders gathered in Lagos from 5 to 9 October under the topic "Achieving Social and Economic Development through Ecological and Organic Agricultural Alternatives". The Association of Organic Agriculture Practitioners of Nigeria (NOAN) invited, and the Lagos State hosted the 220 participants from 28 countries (22 from Africa) and four continents.

The conference was a follow-up to the 2nd Organic Agriculture Conference in Lusaka in 2012, where participants agreed on promoting the concept of ecological organic agriculture. In the previous year, the heads of African states had already decided to promote organic agriculture and to mainstream it into national policies, programmes and plans by 2020.

The African Organic Network (AfrOnet) secretariat moderated the conference with support from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the African Union commission (AUC), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). The Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) held several presentations including highlights on key collaborative organic agriculture research projects in Africa (such as Syscom, Syprobio, ProEcoAfrica) and participated as a panellist in some of the sessions, e.g. on policy.

34 farmers, and a rich and diverse community of young scientists presenting interesting research results, contributed to fruitful discussions and as well as knowledge and experiential exchange. The farmers were mainly from West Africa, but supported and encouraged by colleagues from India and Latin America through the umbrella organization INOFO (Intercontinental Network of Organic Farmers Organisations). "Organic is life" was the message expressed by both practitioners and researchers going beyond the organic movement. The International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR) presented the proceedings already during the conference, which was greatly appreciated. The honouring of numerous organic champions at this conference reflects in part how far the organic movement in Africa has come and the key milestones which have been achieved.

The high complexity of the organic sector and the many social and ecological crises and conflicts require a strong cooperation between farmers, researchers and the members of society. Researchers are organized through NOARA, the Network of Organic Agriculture Research in Africa, which has been supported by FiBL and other international partners since 2012. FiBL recommended to better link the research and development agenda with the newly agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and to consider all societal sectors as stakeholders in order to better mainstream and transform the sector and reach many more farmers. It is important to note that, if non-certified organic areas are taken into consideration, more land and farmers are managed under organic agriculture than currently reflected in the global statistics.

The Lagos Declaration calls for more support from the African states for the Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative and its 10-year strategic plan (from 2015 to 2025). As stated in the 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, it is recommended to use at least 10 % of the national budgetary allocation to agriculture development on this promising and socially and economically relevant way of integrated development. The movement is requested to better link up with the country teams of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). A special effort has to be made in promoting seed companies to provide suitable seed as required by the local communities and their natural environments.

We observe a very dynamic, decentralized and constructive organic African movement which is well anchored in society and economy and delivering concrete solutions to the various challenges. A lot still needs to be done. We look forward to the 4th Conference to be held in Cameroon in 2018 in the heart of Africa and, for the first time, in a francophone country.

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