Worldwide, there is an urgent need for sustainable solutions to poverty, food insecurity, soil erosion, biodiversity decline and climate change. Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and nutrients, energy and water cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than on the use of external inputs with adverse effects.
Organic agriculture – identified as a package of intelligent and innovative farming techniques, sustainable and fair food chains based on principles that strengthen small-scale farmers and empower rural economies - are being adopted globally by governments and local authorities, carried out by millions of farmers and supported by a rapidly increasing number of consumers. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships for all involved.
High quality foods provide access to valuable national and international markets, and therefore play a crucial role in wider poverty reduction (UNCTAD-UNEP, 2008*). The contribution of organic agriculture to poverty reduction is acknowledged by FAO (Diouf, 2009°), documented by numerous case studies on development projects where the principles and practices of organic agriculture have been successfully implemented.
The organic market has been steadily expanding globally due to consumer awareness, rise in health concerns and environmental issues. Every year, the sector registers dynamic growth due to increased consumption. One of the bottlenecks to the development of the sector is the stagnant uptake of organic farming in practice.
Innovations in organic agriculture have a crucial role in the search for local or scalable solutions for a more sustainable and regenerative farming. It is one of the main functions of agricultural research, and farmers are often the innovators. Innovations addressing health and environmental concerns, the needs of farmers and consumers, combined with the facilitation of their uptake by more farmers in more regions will contribute to the development of organic agriculture.
By highlighting innovations through OFIA, the global organic community emphasizes the key role these play in accelerating the adoption of organic agriculture around the world. Increased societal awareness around innovations in the organic community and greater attention and esteem for innovators helps to inspire more innovations and favorably shape the organic research agenda.