ORCA Secretariat

Organic Research Centres Alliance (ORCA)

Organic: Good to Grow!

Organic agriculture has been steadily growing for more than a decade and today like yesterday, the demand for organic products continues to be larger than supply. The new global context of increased climate variability, water scarcity, peak-oil and commodity-price volatility pose unprecedented challenges to agriculture which could be addressed by organic management and a re-localisation of food production and consumption. Organic agriculture offers many synergistic benefits for tackling the bio-physical and socio-economic challenges for reducing hunger, rural poverty and inequality and conserving natural resources cultural diversity. However, a rapid expansion of organic management in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors requires investments in the knowledge base at all levels: from agro-ecology and landscape management to societal organization and market intelligence. Fundamental science and applied research are crucial requirements for the development of organic agriculture, especially in developing countries.

Research: Plant a Seed and Grow with us

The proposed Organic Research Centres Alliance (ORCA) intends to internationally network and strengthen existing institutions with scientific credentials and empower them to become centers of excellence in transdisciplinary organic agriculture research. The objective is to ensure that environmental, economic, and social benefits accruing from organic research are shared worldwide. The ORCA concept is designed following a research paradigm that heavily draws on traditional knowledge, improves it with scientific investigation and shares it widely. Research centres may be physical laboratories or “institutions without walls”, formed through alliances between producers and scientists, as well as twinning between developing and developed countries’ institutions.

ORCA: Growing Together

The ORCA concept has been developed jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (Italy), Tufts University (USA) and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (Switzerland). Following public discussions, the ORCA concept has been finalized and a prototype project proposal (HUSHA) has been submitted to donors. The Organic Research Centres ALLIANCE consists of a number of partners. The informal ORCA Research Centre for Climate Change is already pooling the expertise of a dozen institutions worldwide. 


FAO serves as the ORCA Secretariat. This page will provide information on ORCA developments, including progress in fund raising, future tenders for implementation and calls for biennial conferences. A dedicated ORCA platform has been created, with a view to offer information specific to organic research areas, country profiles, meetings, news and publications. These resources are available at:www.ORCA-Research.org