Report From Agri-Chains and Sustainable Development Event

 

In December 2016 more than 250 participants from 41 different countries gathered in France at the conference on Agri – Chains and Sustainable Development (AC&SD), organized by CIRAD, to discuss the role of agricultural value chains in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Throughout the conference organic agriculture was a prominent topic, appearing in different contexts related to PGS such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Slow Food networks.

IFOAM – Organics International, together with INRA, FAO, Urgenci and IIED organized a session on institutional innovations in agri-food chains, with PGS as a core topic. Allison Loconto, INRA, France, and Anne-Sophie Poisot, FAO, Italy chaired the session where 5 panelists shared their experiences.

Mathew John, World Board Member of IFOAM – Organics International, talked about the process of evolution of PGS in India. He described how in India key institutions such as FAO, IFOAM – Organics International and the government worked with civil society to promote PGS to reach a larger stake of smallholder farmers. What is unique to India is the existence of two PGS structures within the country – one led by the civil society as well as one by the government. Currently over 80,000 farmers are under the PGS system and an increase to 200,000 by the end of 2017 is foreseen.

Julie Nakalanda Matovu, founder and coordinator of Freshveggies PGS, Uganda, and a council member of INOFO, explained why flexibility is a key component of the Freshveggies PGS. This flexibility is found in different operations of the PGS such as the inclusive production and marketing planning, the focus on crop diversity, the logistic and products delivery and also the price flexibility to ensure affordability and attract more consumers towards organic.

Other speakers included Judith Hitchman (URGENCI) who emphasized how CSA involves consumers by sharing initial investments and risks with the producer and Dr Yiching Song (Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy) who shared her experiences of linking poor ethnic mountain farmers with crop scientists at national and provincial levels.

A second session entirely dedicated to PGS “Value-chain innovation to boost smallholder quality management” included a number of experiences from Vietnam. During this session, Tu Thi Tuyet Nhung, another INOFO Council member, presented PGS Vietnam, an initiative that is implementing a collaborative short food supply chain to create inclusive markets for smallholder farmers.

Form the conference discussions, it can be concluded that valuable innovations exist around the world that have the capability to make the food system more sustainable and play a role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.


-  Report provided by Julie Nakalanda Matovu, Freshveggies PGS, Uganda & Mathew John, Keystone Foundation, India.

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