Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Highlight: the European Technology Platform (ETP) for organic food and farming research

Eduardo Cuoco, Anamarija Slabe 
and Marco Schlüter from TP Organics 

TP Organics is the European Technology Platform (ETP) for organic food and farming research. It integrates views of the organic sector and civil society to represent a broad perspective on research and development priorities that can leverage organic food and farming’s potential to address contemporary challenges. As other European Technology Platforms, TP Organics plays a key role in highlighting where the focus of research and development funding should be placed.

Hans-Jörg Lutzeyer. 
European Commission.
DG Research and Innovation 
with the handbook on 
organic research
TP Organics started in 2007, as a business initiative, with the aim to identify the research innovation priorities of the organic sector, as research and innovation is a fundamental factor to find solutions to societal challenges, and enhance the development of the sector and its market. It is the first and only Technology Platform that deals in particular with the organic and low-input food and farming sector.

One of the cornerstones of TP Organics is to engage stakeholders along the whole food supply chain, including consumers, in determining the research needs of the organic sector. From the very beginning TP Organics has been fully opened to a wide range of stakeholders, especially to civil society, farmers, and with particular attention to SMEs (or SME associations) which are often neglected by other ETPs and in research in general.

Currently, 28 umbrella organizations/networks in the field of sustainable agriculture, research, environment and consumer protection are member of TP Organics. Also SMEs and 4 national technology platforms for organic research (Hungary, Italy, Czech Republic and Spain) hold TP Organics membership. Finally, TP Organics collaborates with 20 research institutes of research networks, who also support the platform financially.

Since its establishment, TP Organics has worked to enlarge its membership to include European organisations, SMEs and national platforms. The following is a short description of the different categories of members.
Horizon 2020 projects
Among others, TP Organics helps organic farmers and businesses to build consortia with research partners under Horizon 2020 projects.

Dacian Cioloş EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development:

"I am very pleased with the strong support we have received for the development of the EIP-AGRI, including from IFOAM EU, ARC 2020 and TP Organics. We are pleased with the strong commitment taken by the representatives of IFOAM EU and ARC 2020 in the High Level Steering Board, as well as their involvement in the Focus Groups of the EIP-AGRI. I also welcome the recent recognition of TP Organics as one of the European Technology Platforms. The platform has an important role to play in bringing practitioners and researchers together and identifying innovation goals for organic. With funding coming on tap in 2014 for operational groups under Rural Development and for multi-actor projects and thematic networks under Horizon 2020, I hope that the organic sector will continue its strong involvement in the EIP-AGRI and help make it a success".
  • The European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability, or EIP-AGRI, is a new policy instrument for more stakeholder and demand-driven research and innovation in agriculture. It contains several elements that are supportive of organic farming and agroecological innovation.
  • The dossier The European Innovation Partnership: opportunities for innovation in organic farming and agroecology (Brussels 2014, 36 pages) is there to help the organic sector and the agroecological community understand the implementation of the EIP-AGRI. After a general introduction to the EIP-AGRI in the first chapter, the concepts behind the new approach to innovation are explained. The third chapter addresses the EIP-AGRI activities at EU level. 
  • The EIP-AGRI is fundamentally about bringing expertise from the worlds of farming and science together to learn from each other and develop ideas, knowledge and innovative actions together. It aims to build bridges between science and practice, in particular through practical innovation projects, bottom-up approaches, partnerships and networking activities. It is about growing an innovation culture in European farming that embraces the sector in all its diversity and which is not blind to the prospects that lie in traditional and practical knowledge
There are two types of Horizon 2020 project that contribute to the EIP-AGRI: multi-actor projects and thematic networks. 
  1. The multi-actor projects address the needs and problems of farmers and other practitioners. They should involve relevant stakeholders and, whenever possible, operational groups at every stage of their implementation, forming a consortium of actors that offer complementary knowledge (scientific, practical etc.). 
  2. The thematic networks, on the other hand, should be used to map the existing scientific knowledge and best practices for specific topics. They should develop materials for the practitioners that facilitate the exchange of knowledge.
Relation with PAEPARD
17 February 2014. A meeting was organised in Brussels between PAEPARD and TP Organics which among others discussed the consortium creation around the Horizon 2020 theme SFS-18-2015: Small farms but global markets: the role of small and family farms in food and nutrition security.

In the past PAEPARD related with one of the members of  TP Organics: IFOAM EU about the Scoping Study on organic aquaculture in 5 East African Countries
  • IFOAM EU is the European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming. It brings together more than 160 organizations, associations and enterprises from all EU-27, EFTA and candidate countries. 
  • This report (© IFOAM, 2013, 65 pages) was commissioned by the IFOAM “Regional cooperation for organic standards and certification capacity in East Africa” (OSEA) Project. The OSEA Project was undertaken with support from Swedish Development Cooperation.
  • Organic aquaculture is a relatively new movement within the global aquaculture industry and complements ranges of organic food in retail shops with organically farmed fish. 
  • The scoping study has identified and discussed several bottlenecks and opportunities to develop organic aquaculture projects in East African countries focusing more on the fish species relevant for the domestic and/or regional market (African Catfish but above all on Tilapia). Certification relevant aspects for the organic production of Tilapia and African Catfish have been presented such as Tilapia production without the use of hormones not allowed in organic aquaculture. 
  • In particular for extensive small-scale fish farming operations, organic aquaculture could become a development model bridging the needs of income generation, increased fish production and sustainability under certain circumstances.
Related PAEPARD blogposts
11/06/2014 Promotion of Private Sector Development in Agriculture. PAEPARD interview with Albert Altena Aquatic Blue, Sustainable aquaculture, Bremen, Germany
19/09/2013 Results of public consultation on future of organic farming
07/09/2013 The East African Organic Conference
18/07/2013 Organic Agriculture: African Experiences in Resilience and Sustainability
05/10/2012 Second African Organic Conference

12–15 February 2014. Nuremberg, Germany. World Organic Trade Fair. 6,530 congress participants sourced information at 74 individual events and were interested in the focus topic Organic 3.0.The trade fair celebrated its 25th anniversary. To coincide with BIOFACH’s 25th anniversary, the industry and the trade
fair had defined a common goal: to develop future organic farming and food trading concepts.

13/02/20104. Panel on Attractive for Farmers, for Nature or for Consumers?
An event of the UN International Year of Family Farming looking at the farmers' perspective to assure
sourcing while developing Organic 3.0: For Europe/US and for the countries from the Global South.
14/02/2014. Nuremberg, Germany. Science Day 2014  held during BioFach 2014 focused on the work of TP Organics and TIPI: the Technology Innovation Platform of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

Chair: Nic Lampkin, the Organic Research Centre Elm Farm, UK
  • Organic 2025 – the big picture: Urs Niggli, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Switzerland
  • A critical review of organic farming research world-wide: Maria Wivstad, EPOK, Sweden
  • Global organic research and innovation Needs: Uygun Aksoy; Ege University, Turkey

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