IFOAM Calls on the FAO Council to Specify and Increase Investment in Organic Agriculture
Organic Agriculture Addresses Threats to Food Security, Natural Resources and Food Safety
From June 20th – 25th the Council, the executive body of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that is responsible for the financial management of the organization, will consider the FAO’s Program of Work and Budget for 2006-2007. The “heart” of the FAO’s mandate is “achieving food security for all.”
Organic agriculture provides substantive, measurable and tangible benefits towards achieving this mandate, but is barely mentioned in the $850 million program budget. Agricultural biotechnology, on the other hand, whose contribution to food security is subject to debate, is rewarded for over $6 million in one budget line alone, as well as budgeted to receive FAO support under other programs.
IFOAM calls on the FAO Council to rectify this situation by specifically allocating at least 2% of the program budget - roughly $17 million - to research and support the development of organic agriculture, particularly in developing countries, thereby reflecting the percentage of organic agriculture as a portion of agricultural practices worldwide.
The FAO has included organic agriculture as a Priority Area for Interdisciplinary Action (PAIA). IFOAM recognizes this work has been very effective; nevertheless, organic agriculture remains grossly under funded within the overall framework of the FAO budget. IFOAM Executive Director Gerald A. Herrmann states, “The single most effective way for the FAO Council to help the world achieve food security would be to devote resources towards the development of organic agriculture.”
To quote Jacques Diouf, FAO Director General, in his introduction to the summary program of work and budget 2006-2007, "I have consistently and most forcefully expressed concerns about FAO not being able to meet well recognized challenges and satisfy the expectations and demands from its Members in areas where the Organization has a clear competitive advantage. Clear examples of such expectations of FAO's action are in relation to food security, to the alarming threats to natural resources, to emerging food safety problems, and of course, to emergencies, in particular, as a result of transboundary pest and diseases such as avian influenza and desert locusts."
Organic agriculture addresses Mr. Diouf’s concerns in clear and consistent ways, and its ecological, social and economic potential would become apparent if the FAO were to provide adequate investment. “It would behoove the FAO Council to devote sufficient resources to an agricultural system that will tangibly help the world to progress towards food security. One of the many benefits of organic agriculture is economic stability and sustainable development for farmers and small holders in developing countries. The FAO could learn from diverse research and case studies that already exist and implement organic programs that can be directly applied by farmers,” explains Cristina Grandi, Manager of the IFOAM Liaison Office to the FAO.
More details about the benefits of organic agriculture can be found on IFOAM’s web page www.ifoam.org. Further information can also be requested from the IFOAM Head Office (Charles-de-Gaulle-Str. 5, 53113 Bonn, Germany, phone +49-228-92650-10).
IFOAM Press Release, Responsible: Neil Sorensen
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