Knowledge synthesis on opportunities and barriers for organic production
by Lars Elsgaard, ICROFS
||In Denmark, the Ministry of Food, Fisheries and Agriculture has asked the QLIF partner ICROFS (foremly DARCOF) to carry out a knowledge synthesis on the future opportunities and barriers for production, manufacturing and sales of organic products.
The work, which is now completed, has been ongoing from May 2007 to October 2008. The outcome is a 550 page report accompanied by a Danish and English 55 page whitepaper with summary and recommendations.
The English whitepaper with extract of results and recommendations, 55 pp., 23. Oct. 2008 can be downloaded here (pdf, 3.2 MB). Also, a 4-page preface and summary of the synthesis is included in the document and can be downloaded separately (pdf, 0.1 MB).
The work has benefitted from the use of the information sharing platform EcoWiki, where further information in English is available including a paper on 'Archetypical strategies of organic actors'.
Recommandation of five strategic efforts
Based on the present situation of the organic sector, the knowledge synthesis recommends five important focus areas where an effort should be made, in order to secure the organic market of the future.
1. Strengthen the positive dynamics in processing and sale
The market is ready for more organic products. Value based demand from the trendsetting consumer evokes a response in retailing, and the interest within retailing stimulates processing companies and producers. The present positive dynamics in the market must be continued and strengthened, for one thing, bysupport of product development.
2. Organic intensification conversion lags behind demand
There is a pressing need of a targeted, long term effort for increased conversion to organic production.The effort should focus on communicating an attractive and visionary image of organics as a future part ofagriculture, and creating better conditions for conversion through long term contracts. In addition, new types of organic farms should be developed, which combine organic intensification with multifunctionality and new forms of cooperation between specialised operations.
3. Maintain and strengthen consumer trust
The knowledge synthesis shows that consumer trust is crucial to the development of the organic market and production system. Trust must be maintained through a continued improvement of methods of production and processing in line with the organic principles. And an open and participatory communication with consumers must be ensured.
4. Create synergy between organics and society
Methods of organic production can contribute to the promotion of nature and biodiversity and the reduction of aquatic pollution and emission of greenhouse gases. A larger distribution of organic farming can have a particular effect on biodiversity in selected areas, where there is a special need of protection. There are also opportunities for combining protection of environment and nature with production of bio-energy and development of new special products. More organic farmers could open their farms to visitors in order to combine nature experiences and interactions with farming.
5. Honour the great need for new knowledge
The knowledge synthesis points out that there is a large need for continued research and expansion of knowledge in order to advance the development of organic food production and food systems. Important areas of development are synergies between different organic operations, organic intensification, deliberate use of diversity in and around the fields and improvement breeding, as well as processing and micro processing and the sectors contributions to nature, environment and rural development.