Holistic approach needed for agricultural research

TP Organics‘ stakeholders propose organic solutions for sustainable agriculture

Stakeholders of TP Organics, the technology platform for organic food and farming met in Brussels on 25th June to discuss priorities for Horizon 2020 and the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability. The stakeholder forum was hosted by Paolo De Castro, chair of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee. Susanne Padel attended from ORC. The contribution that the platform has made to get the need for organic and related research to be supported in the framework programmes was firmly recognised by the commission officials attending the meeting.

Participants demanded that future EU-funded agricultural research & innovation employ a holistic approach that connects food production based on ecosystem services with fair food chains empowering rural areas and responsible food habits.

In his opening speech, Paolo De Castro cited the commitment of TP Organics’ members and the transparency of the secretariat as reasons why he agreed to host the stakeholder forum. He added “Since its establishment in 2008, TP Organics has been of high interest for the European Parliament, because it has managed to align the research & innovation priorities of the organic and low-input sector, thereby engaging farmers, small & medium enterprises, NGOs and consumer groups. Furthermore, the economic importance of organic agriculture is growing considerably in many European countries as well as outside Europe.”

“The organic sector’s proven ability to innovate is anchored in its history of strong collaboration across disciplines and between researchers and producers. Therefore, TP Organics welcomes the steps taken in the EIP for Agriculture and Horizon 2020 to bridge the gap between research and practice,” says Marco Schlüter, Head of Secretariat of TP Organics. He added: “Yet, the EIP for Agriculture should take account of the specificities of the organic sector whose diversity of practices and knowledge, and the fact that these are often location-specific pose additional challenges to their exchange.”

The stakeholder forum was organised in cooperation with the Mediterranean Organic Agriculture Network (MOAN), a network of agricultural ministries of 24 countries in the Mediterranean area. MOAN representative Uygun Aksoy highlighted the importance of the EU as organic export market for countries at the southern shore of the Mediterranean. She stated: “Organic agriculture has an enormous potential for the revitalisation of rural areas in the Mediterranean. Improved governance mechanisms and scientific collaboration are needed to make this potential reality.”The conclusions of the stakeholder forum will be made available atTP Organics. The next round of consultation for research topics important for the organic sector in Europe will start in the Autumn of 2013.

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