Published: 06/18/2007 - Updated: 07/10/2016
What is meant by "organic agriculture?”
Organic agriculture is a system of production management that avoids use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms, minimizes pollution of air, soil and water, and optimizes the health and productivity of interdependent communities of plants, animals and people. Normal agriculture practices degrade the natural resources (e.g., extracting the nutrients from the soil) but not using external inputs, cannot be called "organic". By contrast, agriculture systems that do not use external inputs but are governed by the principles of organic agriculture and health care are considered organic, even if the agro-ecosystem is not certified organic. A product that is said to be organic certification requires that it is actually for sale on the market, and requires a label certifying it as an organic product. Labels on organic products can be issued by independent certification bodies or participatory guarantee systems. We use the term "agriculture" in a broad sense to include forestry and fisheries. Therefore, the Conference will care also about organic aquaculture and exploitation of organic non-timber forest products. Finally, the concept of agriculture includes food, fibers and medical raw materials and cosmetics.
What is meant by "food security?"
There is food security when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and preferences in terms of food to live active and healthy. (World Food Summit, 1996) This definition is commonly accepted, said the following dimensions of food security:
Food Availability: The availability of sufficient quantities of food of appropriate quality, supplied through the country's production or imports (including food aid).
Access to food: Access of individuals to adequate resources (resources that are right) to acquire adequate food and nutritious food. These rights are defined as all the product groups for which a person may have under domain of legal agreements, political, economic and social community in which they live (including traditional rights such as access to resources groups).
Use: Use of biological food through adequate food, drinking water, sanitation and medical care, to achieve a state of nutritional well-being in which all meet the physiological needs. This concept emphasizes the importance of non-food items in food safety.
Stability: For food security, population, a household or individual should have access to adequate food at all times. There should not run the risk of losing their access to food as a result of sudden crisis (for ex., An economic or climatic crisis) or cyclical events (such as seasonal food insecurity). In this way, the concept of stability refers to the dimension of availability and access to food security.
The Organization of the United Nations Food and Agriculture, through the Interdepartmental Working Group on Organic Agriculture.
Organic Agriculture Program of FAO over the medium term (2002-2007) has three main aspects:
A. Information systems and networks for production, preservation, processing, labeling and marketing of organic products.
The objective is to provide reliable, affordable and of good quality, to make informed decisions regarding organic agriculture. The selected activities are:
- The Web site for Organic Agriculture provides access to the information sector, the FAO and outside. This service will be enriched by including databases, electronic conferences and studies on tropical organic agriculture. The data produced by various means and are presented through multimedia products such as posters, books, digital albums, Web sites, etc.
- It is developing a method for comparing systems of organic agriculture, traditional and conventional. This method will be the basis for future collection of field data and the analysis of farming systems around the world.
- It is developing a method for collecting data from all FAO member countries for the purpose of presenting statistics on the future of organic agriculture.
- Systems are promoting collaborative research, such as the Working Group on Methods of Investigation Organic Farming in Europe.
B. Provision of support tools for policy decisions and techniques for productivity and efficiency of organic agriculture.
The objective is to improve the production and processing of organic products, with particular emphasis on the poor and marginalized areas of the market, food safety and environmental quality.
Among the selected activities are:
- It has been commissioned the preparation of case studies of the contribution of organic agriculture to protect soil biodiversity and agricultural biodiversity in different ecosystems. The results will be submitted for consideration by the relevant bodies of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
- We are developing guidelines for farmers engaged in organic horticultural products, as well as for conservation and development of organic products. There are also activities in the area of organic grassland (to start in Brazil and Uruguay), organic aquaculture (initially in Eastern Europe) and non-wood forest products.
- Alternative approaches for research and training are being investigated and developing, including curricula and teaching materials for formal and informal training in the field of organic agriculture. The experience gained will be used in schools to develop the rural research and extension activities among farmers.
C. Studies, providing technical assistance and policy advice on production, certification and trade of certified organic agricultural products.
The purpose is to facilitate access by small producers and exporters in developing countries to markets. The selected activities are:
- Intergovernmental cooperation on standards, inspection, certification and accreditation of organic products, such as the Alimentarius Codex in production, processing, labeling and marketing of organic food, and the project Codex guidelines for the evaluation of technical regulations related to inspection and certification systems for food.
- Evaluating the potential for diversification and trading opportunities for organic agricultural products.
- Analysis of production systems in specific contexts and organizational guidance and advice on requirements for production, processing, retailing and consumption of certified organic agricultural products.
Technical assistance to countries provided by FAO include:
A. The "normative" provides information on production and trade of organic food through studies, statistics, networks and discussion for the point A (top). FAO aims to act as a catalyst for trade policy formulation and development of partnerships between public and private sectors in the international arena.
B. The "operational" are done with the budget or through FAO's government sources, private sector or NGOs, field projects are designed and implemented at the request of governments. More specifically:
Projects of FAO technical cooperation of relatively short duration (two years at most), and with limited resources (not exceeding 400 U.S. $ 000), technical input from experts, practical training or equipment and supplies. Technical cooperation projects complement other forms of assistance and serve as catalysts for larger scale activities. See the Guidelines for the development of technical cooperation projects for more information.
In collaboration with its partners in terms of funding (ie the World Bank) and economic partnership agreements, FAO assists member governments to formulate and evaluate investment proposals, and to comply with the requirements by funding agencies to obtain approval and implement the proposed projects.