Organic farming is the new field of activity of the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (MAI-B). It falls within its programme of promotion and support to the development of agriculture in Mediterranean countries.
The MAI-B is one of the four institutes of CIHEAM, an intergovernmental organization founded in 1962 on the initiative of the OECD and the Council of Europe. Its member countries are: Albania, Algeria, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and Yugoslavia.
From its Headquarters in Paris, the Secretary General coordinates the activity of the four specialized institutes located in Bari (Italy), Montpellier (France), Chania (Greece), Zaragoza (Spain).
Thanks to its activities and to the results so far achieved, the MAI-B represents, for the international scientific community, the crossroad of applied research for the sustainable use of water in agriculture and for the protection of Mediterranean fruit crops from virus and virus-like diseases. The MAI-B coordinates research networks through the participation of universities and scientific institutions based in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East and collaborates with the UNDP and FAO.
Furthermore, the MAI-B is the reference point for international boards and Mediterranean countries for programmes of cooperation for the development of the whole Mediterranean basin since it promotes the post-graduate training of senior staff and coordinates projects of interest to the whole area.
The MAI-B intends to play the same role in the field of organic agriculture. This decision is justified by three basic motivations:
In this perspective, the MAI-B acts through four basic tools: training, research and experimentation, cooperation to development and information.
The organization of high level training courses addressed to technical and scientific officers from Mediterranean countries is aimed at the transfer of knowledge on legislative aspects and production and market techniques for adequate implementation of organic farming. Projects have already been started or are underway for:
The MAI-B action is aimed at promoting and implementing research programmes with the contribution of international scientists and experts. This activity will be carried out through the:
The setting up of an international research and experimentation network with the participation of public and private institutions has already been started. Within the Biopuglia Project some experimentation lines have been developed on specific technical, agronomic and market aspects. Also, some research lines have been developed on composting and the use of suppressive natural substances. Finally, a network of experimental farms has been established in order to evaluate and compare, together with the organic producers, the results obtained from the theoretical research works with those from the field.
The analysis of the requirements and the specific needs of the different countries of the Mediterranean has led to the definition of cooperation programmes designed on the basis of the characteristics of the land and aimed at the setting-up of collaboration networks that will orient the entrepreneurial choices of economic operators and the political choices of governments.
Cooperation for the development of organic farming has already taken the first steps through the:
The dissemination of results of the activity and experimentation research is aimed at stimulating and favouring the circulation and diffusion of scientific knowledge on organic farming, through the:
In this respect, the collaboration with IFOAM, International Federation for Organic Agriculture Movements, was initiated and the MAI-B was chosen to be the Headquarters of AgriBioMediterraneo Secretariat for the IFOAM Regional Group.
The Secretariat will have the opportunity to resort to the MAI-B facilities, organizational experience and international relations for the more efficient coordination of Mediterranean boards and for the better harmonization of actions and objectives.