The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements is in Rio addressing the lack of support from mainstream research funders. They have created the Global Organic Research Network (IGORN) which will showcase organic science and farming practices, in an attempt to garner funding for establishing a series of research centres in the developing world, and mainstreaming organic research and farming. The network will be launched in 2013.
The move follows the failure of the Organic Research Centres Alliance (ORCA) — initiated in 2009 — to establish an organic farming centre coordinated by the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), and to set up research centres across the developing world.
Although the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) funded a website for the project, the idea made little progress.
This was because the “CGIAR at that time was not very welcoming”, said Urs Niggli, director of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and a professor at the University of Kassel-Witzenhausen, Germany. He said recent reforms to the CGIAR economic landscape had removed the possibility of funding such a network.
Hans Herren, president of the Millennium Institute, in Washington DC, said at the same event that the CGIAR was stuck in its “system-wide programmes” framework, which focuses on boosting yields through conventional, industrial-type agriculture and monocultures. This ignored issues related to soil health and an integrated and holistic approach to agriculture, he said, which the new network is hoping to address. Although Europe has increased funding for Organic research —becoming a global sector leader over the past ten years — Australia, Canada and the United States have been “very sceptical of supporting organic research” … “Donors think Organic is not opening the way for new technologies; this seems to be a major obstacle.”