As a part of IFOAM’s Organic Sector Capacity Building Activities, the OAAEA Project is a follow-up of the IFOAM Organic World Congress in 2011 in the Republic of Korea.
This 2,5-year cooperative project between IFOAM - Organics International and the Rural Development Administration of the Republic of Korea (RDA) intends to develop curricula and aims to train coaches and extension agents in order to support organic conversion and extension in the Republic of Korea. This way, the OAAEA will contribute to the capacity of Korean extension agents for organic agriculture and therefore empower organic farmers and their institutions.
IFOAM - Organics International and the RDA offer two 6-months training courses, each for about 20 participants from all over Korea, which include face-to-face events as well as e-learning units. The participants will be coached in their extension activities and develop objectives and content for practical trainings of extension agents.
To achieve a higher relevance, more outreach and a greater impact compared to simple trainings participants of the OAAEA will be asked to apply of what is taught by providing training to farmers and peers using the “farmer field school” and the “train the trainers” methodologies.
The participants will train a farmers group of about 10 – 15 farmers on chosen topics like organic technologies or organic certification. Beforehand, the OAAEA will help them to determine appropriate methodology and training contents.
The participants will teach a group of about 8 – 10 peers, replicating the OAAEA training content to extension agents in their region.
Throughout the course, participants get support for the application of the learned content and to set up their training units. Furthermore, IFOAM - Organics International and RDA will undertake field visits to farmers and peers.
Through the interaction of course participants with extension agents, the project reaches directly about 360 peers and 500 farmers. The eventual potential outreach is several thousand farmers.
The OAAEA has a great potential to strengthen the Extension Services in the Republic of Korea and effectively improve its methodology. In addition, it provides farmers with up-to-date knowledge of technology and empowers them for self-help and business development, facilitating their access to markets. Participants of the OAAEA will be able to extend their collaboration skills and promote the uptake of environmentally sound organic practices.
In July 2013, the first group of OAAEA participants has successfully completed the training course and received their OAAEA certificates at the RDA during the second face-to-face session.
The first training session concluded two important outcomes. Firstly, the translation of the IFOAM Training Manual for Organic Agriculture into Korean was completed. Secondly, the development of a conversion manual for farmers and extension agents was issued in Korean. These two publications will be key resources for future OAAEA courses, as well as future extension support beyond the program period.