Organic Times – first edition of the MOAgazine

 

Recently students of the Master programme Organic Agriculture (MOA) of Wageningen University launched the first edition of the MOAgazine entitled ‘Organic Times’. The magazine (Organic times online) is written and edited by MOA students and provides some insights into the programme, study and student activities and a variety of issues linked to MOA, including book reviews and organic recipes. As chair of the MOA study programme committee I have enjoyed reading the Organic Times and am proud of the time and energy the students invested in developing this magazine. It reflects the enthusiasm and commitment of this great and dedicated group of international students as well as the interdisciplinary character of the MOA programme.

Food Otherwise Conference 2016 February 12-13

Food Otherwise bannerFebruary 12 and 13 the 2nd Food Otherwise conference takes place in the Orion building of Wageningen University. The first Food Otherwise Conference took place in 2014 and has been an overwhelming success with 800 participants and full of spirit to make a difference. The Food Otherwise conference is supported by many organisations that published the Foods Otherwise manifesto: Towards fair and sustainable food and agriculture systems.

Next to the plenary programme there will be 60 workshops in four parallel sessions on four themes: 1. Agroecology, soil & permaculture; 2. Short chains and urban farming; 3. Fair agriculture and trade policies; 4. Access to land and land rights. You can download the full programme and guidelines on how to register yourself. There is a special programme for kids, so you can take them along.

The plenary programme offers inspiring key note speakers from home and abroad: e.g. Irene Cardoso (Chair of the Brazilian Agroecology Association, Professor of Soil Science), Jyoti Fernandes (farmer and member of La Via Campesina Europe), Sieta Keimpema (Dutch Dairymen Board), Jonathan Karpathios (Greek- Dutch chef, food blogger and gardener), Olivier De Schutter (IPES-Food), Jocelyn Parot (Urgenci), Maryam Rahmanian (FAO) and Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (Wageningen University).

Reclaim the Seeds is a special co-event on Saturday, from 10.00-17.00 in the Forum building.

The Rural Sociology Group supports the Food Otherwise Conference. Jan Douwe van der Ploeg (professor Transition Studies) contributes on Saturday with an overall reflection and convenes a workshop on ‘Gebiedscooperaties: zelfsturing en autonomie’ with speakers from the Northern Frisian Woodlands and Province of Friesland.

Best practices in nutrition-sensitive landscapes, Zambia – MSc-thesis Minke Stadler

By Minke Stadler, MSc Organic Agriculture

Below a summary of my MSc-thesis Productivity in Nutrition-Sensitive Landscapes; 
Evaluating agricultural best practices, mindset and social values systems in Barotse floodplain, Zambia.

Best agricultural practices in Kapanda, Zambia

Best agricultural practices in Kapanda, Zambia

Nutrition-sensitive landscapes address the relationship between agriculture, nutrition and environment. Increasing farm productivity and diversification of nutritious food crops are key issues in agricultural development, as improved productivity and diversification provide opportunities to reduce poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. Adoption of new practices is one, out of many, key issues to help improving food and nutrition security. Farmers’ mindsets and social values systems are therefore important, as people interact with their environment and decide what and how to farm.

Can development be taught?…  No. It can only be learnt. (Clapham, 1996)

The study was part of the CGIAR Research Programs on Aquatic Agricultural Systems (AAS) and Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH). The aim was to develop a better understanding of the mindset and socio-cultural aspects that influence the relations between nutritious food production and landscape, while studying successes. The underlying hypothesis is that: “Geographical location and position in the landscape results in different mindsets and values systems, which in turn influence agricultural practices and adoption strategies.” Continue reading

Agro-ecology in practice: Farm Experience Internship 2015 – get enrolled!

By Elske Hageraats, Msc. Biology and Msc. Development and Rural Innovation, WUR.

There is a battle for ‘truth’ (Foucault, 1976) and this fight for independent research and education is still going strong: be inspired by the story of the FEI

FEI 2014 LuizaFor my internship I have organised the Farm Experience Internship (FEI) 2014. The FEI is a international summer course at the Wageningen University for students and non-students, intended to bring theoretical knowledge from the University with practical skills and knowledge from farmers. Wageningen University students can get 3 ects credits for their participation in the FEI. Above you can see one of the FEI 2014 participants, Luiza from Brazil, harvesting ‘rainbow carrots’ in the Netherlands. Are you also interested in growing your own food, discovering local knowledge and practices on organic farms in the Netherlands? Do you want to learn about permaculture, agro-ecology and sustainable food systems? Would you like to interact and discuss with farmers to find creative, innovative ways of farming? Then this course is what you’re looking for! Join as participant, as farmer or organise the course at your own university as your internship. Check our website, or send us a mail: farmexperienceinternship@gmail.com.

Continue reading

Regulation of Participatory Guarantee Systems in Brazil: Achievements and Challenges

Maria Alicia MendoncaBy  Maria Alice F. C. Mendonça, Ph.D. student in Rural Development at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul/Brazil and Wageningen University/The Netherlands

Below my contribution to the IFOAM Global newsletter on Participatory Guarantee Systems published bimonthly. See the IFOAM PGS webpage for more information. Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are locally focused quality assurance systems that certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.

The Brazilian regulation for organic and agroecological production was introduced in the 1990’s in response to international restrictions on Brazilian organic products. Nevertheless, the agroecological movement stayed prominent and actively participated in discussions and negotiations with the government. As a result of this interaction between government and the agroecological movement, a series of laws, decrees and federal regulatory instructions for organic and agroecological production was enacted, e.g. the Organic Law and its respective regulatory instructions. Moreover, the National Policy on Organic Production and Agroecology (Política Nacional de Agroecologia e Produção Orgânica) and the National Action Plan for Organic Production and Agroecology (Plano Nacional de Agroecologia e Produção Orgânica) were released in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They settle the strategies for government investments in the expansion of agroecological production.

Currently, Brazilian farmers have three options to ensure the organic and agroecological quality of their produce: 1) Third-party certification; 2) Participatory Assessment Bodies; and 3) Social Control Organizations. These last two are systems operate at a local level and rely on the active participation of stakeholders. However, only the Participatory Assessment Bodies are considered as Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) in the legal sense and authorized for the use of the national organic label, which is required for non-direct sales of organic products. In contrast, the Social Control system does not grant the right to use the national label and allows only the direct sale from small-scale family famers to the final consumers.

Continue reading