- Sustainable production systems
Crucial to organic farming methods are the promotion of soil fertility and biodiversity and sustainable land use based on locally adapted cultivation techniques. The development of such techniques presents a major challenge for many producers in developing countries. In the tropics and sub-tropics there has as yet been very little research into practical solutions for organic agriculture and the integrated application of its principles. The priority areas of our projects are the evaluation and development of locally adapted technologies, and exploration of the contribution of organic farming to food security, environmental conservation and sustainable development. The projects focus on practice-oriented on-farm research.
- Climate and resources
The tropics and sub-tropics are greatly affected by global warming, in particular because of their greater dependence on irrigation, the soil’s lower buffer capacity and frequent lack of access to resource-saving technologies. On the international market, climate-neutral products are playing a more and more important role. People look to agriculture to provide renewable energy and agricultural fuels – which are often labelled, completely inappropriately, as “biofuels”. Most of these energy products produce fuel from agricultural crops and compete with food for people. FiBL develops methods, evaluates value chains and researches genuine “biofuels” from the farm.
- Market development
The demand for organic products is growing unabated all over the world. Local markets are emerging even in poorer developing countries. The market potential of organic agriculture offers attractive development opportunities for producers and exporters from developing and transition countries. The organic market requires a great deal of attention and specialist knowledge. Anyone who aims to market organic products successfully must develop strategies for quality, regionality and fair trade and have knowledge of the potential of the organic market and of access conditions.
Priorities of the projects in developing countries are the development of value chains and market initiatives, market research, development of regional and international marketing strategies, linking of demand and supply, quality management, and preparation for label recognition and certification.
- Certification, standards and agricultural policy
Organic certification is the key to market access, but for small farmers in developing countries it presents a major challenge. International certification procedures are unaffordable for small farmers. Two alternatives are being implemented in various FiBL projects, primarily in eastern Europe and Asia; these involve the setting up of internal monitoring systems and the development of local certification programmes.
- Training and extension
Organic agriculture is knowledge-intensive at every stage. Suitably prepared and efficiently distributed information is essential for producers, processors, trading companies, teachers, advisors, researchers and official bodies. FiBL supports training and advisory organizations, research institutions, NGOs and other service providers in developing countries. Activities include collating, editing, distributing and networking specialist knowledge, experience and research results, developing education and advisory tools, materials and documentation such as manuals, data sheets and Internet platforms, developing teaching plans and training teachers, setting up competence centres and advisory services, the direct provision of services such as conversion planning, and the provision of advice on specialist areas of organic farming.