|World Food Day 2006|
October 16, 2006
World Food Day 2006: Investing in Organic Agriculture for Food Security
|The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations celebrates World Food Day each year on October 16th, the day on which the Organization was founded in 1945. This year’s theme is ‘Investing in agriculture for food security.’|
The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
continuously highlights the obvious, although complex, linkages between
Organic Agriculture and food security. Organic agriculture, a holistic
production management system, enhances agro-ecosystem health, utilizing
both traditional and scientific knowledge. Organic agricultural systems
rely on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs.
It contributes in many ways to food security; its reduced mechanization
and avoidance of the use of agrochemicals creates employment and
increases returns to labor. Diversified production of quality products
decreases the impact of crop failures and increases marketing
opportunities. Income and food security is achieved through diversity,
at the same time maintaining a healthy environment. It builds the
social capital of rural areas as it is knowledge intensive, rather than
capital and resource-intensive.
The FAO seems to have predominately agribusiness, agrochemical suppliers and their investors in mind when expressing thoughts about ‘investing in agriculture.’ However, the ‘progress’ portended to have been introduced by the agrochemical industry has thus far resulted in a reduction of crop and biological diversity. More farmers are increasingly dependent on few cultivars that demand substantial investment. Agrochemical input costs are high, while market prices continue to decrease, forcing farmers and workers into extreme positions, such as having to abandon their fields, sell off land, or even to commit suicide – the latter has been clearly demonstrated in India, with government statistics in 2003 alone counting 17107 farmer suicides. Consequentially, traditional and indigenous knowledge developed over the millennia and the food security they provide are being systematically eroded. Another consequence and continuing danger of industrial agriculture is the degradation of natural resources. The overall result one can expect is a loss of productive lands, ecosystem biodiversity and the extinction of species. Thus IFOAM offers a stern warning to the FAO that this scenario is the likely consequence of investing in industrialized agriculture.
Gerald A. Herrmann, IFOAM’s President, calls upon the FAO to offer solutions that do justice to the complexity of food insecurity and to put the actors, the very farmers, at the center of the farming strategy. He states "Industrial agriculture relies upon external inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides. Organic Agriculture effectively uses resources and restores a decision-making role to local communities, guaranteeing their right to control their own resources and engaging their active participation in a value added food chain," further noting "‘The single most effective way for the FAO to help the world achieve food security would be to devote their resources towards the development of Organic Agriculture production systems."
IFOAM is the international umbrella organization of organic agriculture movements worldwide.
IFOAM’s mission is leading, uniting and assisting the organic movement in its full diversity.
Our goal is the worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially and economically sound systems that are based on the Principles of Organic Agriculture.
|© IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture|