Go Organic, Stay Healthy and Sustainable!

Agriculture is under threat—its sustainability is a big challenge for us all. Many options are being tried to make agricultural practices sustainable, and organic agriculture is one among them. The multiple features of organic agriculture that contribute to food security and help in achieving the SDGs were discussed at the side event on “Increasing food security through sustainable agricultural practices: Which role for organic agriculture?”. This is an area I, too, have been wandering around since late 1990s.

I presented a paper at the 11th IFOAM International Scientific Conference on Organic Agriculture at Copenhagen in 1996. Since then, I have been attending the conferences, meetings and closely following the developments on organic agriculture around the world. I have also been part of the various committees including the organic standards committee of IFOAM Organics International. I attended an IFOAM Organic Leadership Course including its Master Class.

Currently I am readying for the much awaited 19th IFOAM Organic World Congress in India scheduled next month. I believe, by now you must have understood my love for the things ‘organic’. So, it was naturally a golden opportunity for me to hear the latest developments in the organic sector at the CFS event. I feel I am blessed to be able to attend this session organized by multiple partners*. You may be wondering, how does organic agriculture contribute to each of the sustainability dimensions when it comes to food security? Believe me, the best thing you could have done is to attend to learn the connection between organic agriculture, SDGs and the food security. But no problem, I will lay it out for you.

Increasing Food Security using innovative and sustainable agricultural practices is one of the challenges in achieving SDG2. Organic agriculture has an extraordinary potential thanks to its unique holistic approach combining ecosystem dimensions, social inclusiveness, and environmental and economic resilience.  It also represents a concrete opportunity for farmers to earn a living, thanks to its strong link with consumers looking for healthy and nutritious food. Recognizing the high potential of organic agriculture, the FAO Organic Agriculture Programme has a long-term objective to enhance food security, rural development, sustainable livelihoods and environmental integrity by building capacities of member countries in organic production, processing, certification and marketing. IFAD considers organic agriculture as a means of poverty reduction in countries like India and China. But can it really help developing countries come out of chronic poverty?

Ms Eva Torremocha, Vice- President of IFOAM Organics International, while giving figures on organic development around the world, noted that India is among the top organic producers in the world. This was heartening for me being an Indian. The speakers were unanimous that the contribution of organic agriculture to the SDGs is not limited to Goal 2.  It also helps to achieve Goals 3 “Good health and well-being”, 6 “Clean Water and Sanitation”, 12 “Responsible consumption and production”, 13 “Climate action” and 15 “Life on Land”.

The speakers presented the multiple features of organic agriculture that can make it crucial in increasing food security, while providing for environmental and societal health. Truly, organic agriculture answers many of the puzzles of sustainable living. Yet, some still see it as just a utopian fantasy!  

Ms Nadia El-Hage Scialabba, from the Climate and Environment Division of FAO, discussed the projects and developments around the world in the organic sector and FAO’s role in promoting it. It made me happy when she showed so many photos from the Indian organic sector. The policies, actions and evidence are growing to prove organic a viable option for a healthy future to man, animals and the environment. Organic is not only about food, it’s a unique lifestyle—a way of living.

Ms Norma Ruz, Executive Director of Special Projects of the World Heritage Authority, presented a video on Chinampa Agriculture system of Mexico. It was impactful enough to convince any hardcore critic of organic agriculture. Yet another video by Ms Raffaells Mellano, a farmer from Agricola Mellano, was good enough to make me feel even more organic. In it, I could see organic dairy animals to my delight.

Some say “Organic is a luxury for rich” but I can’t wait any longer, straightway going to buy some organic stuff for myself, from the good number of organic stores here in Rome.

How do you feel about organic? Do you buy organic foods? Or does it still puzzle you how it could be so good and good for you? Truth be told, if you are not turning to organic yet, you may be lonely on this planet.

“It is vitally important that we can continue to say, with absolute conviction, that organic farming delivers the highest quality, best-tasting food, produced without artificial chemicals or genetic modification, and with respect for animal welfare and the environment, while helping to maintain the landscape and rural communities.”- Prince Charles

*Permanent Representation of Italy to the International Organizations in Rome, Permanent Representation of Mexico to the International Organizations in Rome, IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) Organics International & OANI (Organic Action Network Italy)

 

This post covers the #CFS44 side event, “Increasing food security through sustainable agricultural practices: Which role for organic agriculture?”

Blogpost and photo by Mahesh Chander - #CFS44 Social Reporter – mchanderivri(at)gmail.com

This post is part of the live coverage during the 44th Session of the Committee on World Food Security, a social media project supported by GFAR. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

17/10/2017 0:00

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