Statement of Candidacy
Over more than 30 years, I have gained a good overview of the world of organic farming, have a good global network in organic science and organic practice (e.g., I am a Professor for Organic Farming, board member of IFOAM-OI and president of ISOFAR since 2014, board member of TIPI since 2011, editor-in-chief of the peer-reviewed Journal of Organic Agriculture).
After so many decades as active organic farmer, trader, global worker, organic researcher and green politician, I became board member of IFOAM – Organics International in 2014 to support the organic movement with my:
− deep knowledge in practical organic farming (farm to fork);
− high level science expertise, including at interdisciplinary and system level (from soil, to plant, livestock, farmer, processing, trading toward consumption);
− long term and inter-cultural experience in running institutions and working groups;
− understanding of decision making: lobbying, campaigns, fundraising;
− experience of creating and developing global networks and strategies.
I see the chance of organic farming to help to solve the future challenges in food security and safety as well as in sustainable and fair agriculture throughout the world. Nevertheless, organic farming has not the global importance as it should have. Despite a good development of the organic world and improved advocacy and promotion of the idea in the last decades, there is still a lot to do - internally and externally.
− Nearly one billion people face hunger, and malnutrition even many morel; despite that enough food is produced, but not sufficiently available to poor and remote people.
− Climate change and environmental pollution is increasing problems for food and farming.
− Food quality and food cultures are more and more endangered.
− Biodiversity and soil fertility are being lost.
− Food and agriculture are diminishing as a priority.
− Organic farming is not developing fast enough (efficiency and productivity).
− Organic farming research is not developed and funded well enough to be compatible with conventional and business driven agricultural and food science.
The challenge for IFOAM is to network and harmonize the global organic community, to speak with one voice in international and national committees, to gain and dense knowledge to support advocacy and, last but not least, to bridge the gaps between:
− rich and poor regions;
− traditional and modern technologies;
− research results and practical adaptation;
− business and public interests (short vs. long term impact);
− old and young, men and women, rural and urban;
− slow and fast food; and
− company and family agriculture.
I have contributed in the recent IFOAM – Organics International World Board in these issue in the concept paper of Organic 3.0 and the new strategy of IFOAM. I want to continue to support IFOAM – Organics International in the coming three years to communicate these concepts and strategies.I hope, that these arguments are convincing to get your vote to continue on the IFOAM World Board.
Background of Candidate/ Resume
1962: I was born on a small dairy farm in Frisia. At age 18, I left the farm for civil service (drug rehabilitation center in a big city), and realized that farming is my world.
1983: At age 23, I started to make my education as a trainee on a mixed family farm in the mountainous area of middle Germany, and then started in 1984 to study agriculture at the Faculty of Organic Agricultural Science in Witzenhausen, University of Kassel, Germany. This was the place where I came in touch with Organic farming and IFOAM (funding place).
1989: I received my diploma in agriculture economics, and in 1993 my PhD in Rural Development at the University of Goettingen (Germany).
1993: After my two children were born, I became post doc at the Faculty of Organic Agricultural Science at the University of Kassel (Germany). In 1999, I finished my habilitation (professorship) in agro-ecology and system research in the field of organic animal husbandry and nature reserve protection.
2000: I became funding director of the new established German Federal Research Centre of Organic Farming, with the focus on “Development of the Organic Farming of Tomorrow”. This is a well-funded (100 person staff, modern laboratories, 600 ha large experimental station, well-equipped infrastructure) and challenging position to support the organic world. The scientific work is focused on the EU organic standards with the targets of “scientific impact“ AND “reality impact.“ The research is without influence of the German government but it expects high quality research and independent scientific recommendation in all aspects of organic farming.
2006: I became, in addition to my main job as institute director, Professor at the University of Kassel at the Faculty or Organic Agricultural Science.
From 2015 to 2017 I have worked 2.5 years on sabbatical in Ethiopia to establish the "Green Innovation Centre - Ethiopia", an initiative of the Germany Ministry for Foreign Cooperation. In this position, I was responsible to coordinate and initiate the issue, Organic Agriculture. After this sabbatical I came back into my job as Director of the Thuenen Institute of Organic Farming.
From 1986 till 2002, I also ran a diversified, self-sufficiency focused organic farm with some friends.
I have published more than 50 scientific and more than 350 other papers. I wrote several books, mainly in the areas of organic animal husbandry. I have visited and worked in more than 140 countries all over the worldI am member and active part of many associations and committees in the organic sector: e.g. IFOAM – Organics International, ISOFAR, FibL, TIPI, Bioland, FAO-ORCA, KTBL, NABU, Slow Food.
After Tschernobyl in 1986, I became member of the German Green Party, and over more than 25 years I have been a member of several communal parliaments and policy working groups. In these functions, I learned a lot about policy decisions and motions.