Applications are now open for the 3rd Organic Farming Innovation Award (OFIA). Researchers, extension agents, and practitioners of organic agriculture who are working on innovations in the field are encouraged to apply by the deadline of March 31, 2017.
The OFIA Committee is looking for innovations which are new; applicable to organic farming, processing, and trade; relevant for solving real problems or exploring new potentials; and have the potential to make great impact. An award will the given in two categories: the Grand Prize (US$10,000) and the Science Prize (US$5000).
The OFIA Committee aims to foster a culture of innovations and recognize the efforts made in the field of organic agriculture sector that could lead to a paradigm shift in the existing conventional agriculture dependent food system. The International Foundation of Organic Agriculture Movement—Organic International (IFOAM), the Rural Development Administration of Republic of Korea, and IFOAM Technology Innovation Platform (ITIP) present the award every three years at the 19th Organic World Congress (OWC).
“Innovations are imperative to make organic farming competitive and viable alternative farming system holding the promises of organic farming for producers and consumers,” Markus Arbenz, Executive Director of IFOAM, said in a statement.
According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) report, The World of Organic Agriculture 2016, currently, 172 countries are practicing organic agriculture. Worldwide, there has been an increase from 11 million hectares to 43.7 million hectares of organic land, and an increase of 200,000 farmers to 2.3 million farmers. The organic market sector has grown from US$15.2 billion to US$80 billion from 1999 to 2014. However, organic agriculture land amounts to only 0.99 percent of the total agricultural land.
IFOAM’s 2015 discussion paper, Organic 3.0 charts the journey of organic movement. The first phase (Organic 1.0) re-visited the connections between nature-food-nutrition-health. The second phase (Organic 2.0) focused on giving a momentum to the organic movement by setting standards, codes, and rules. This phase had a tremendous impact on changing the unsustainable habits of both producers and consumers when it came to the environment, food, and agriculture.
However, the paper also recognized some of the hurdles faced by the organic farming sector. For instance, low rate of conversion to organic agriculture, burden of certification and third-party verifications on small-scale farmers, fraudulent and long processes for certifications, no recognition and reward system for effective delivery of ecosystem services, and no acceptance of organic agriculture as mainstream agriculture strategy by policymakers.
IFOAM hopes that Organic 3.0, the third phase of organic agriculture, will address these hurdles through a culture of innovation, continuous improvement toward best practice, ensuring transparent integrity, inclusiveness of wider sustainability interests, and holistic empowerment from farm to the final product, true value, and fair pricing.
“Organic 3.0 strategizes, implements and delivers with awareness of tradition, culture, and science, and develops based on scientific evidence and on principles of health, ecology, fairness and care,” the paper summarizes.
“Highlighting innovation at IFOAM and in the global organic movement can help to increase awareness and appreciation for even small, but impactful innovations,” Arbenz believes. “An increased awareness inside and outside the organic community and a higher societal status for innovators helps to inspire researchers and it helps to shape the research agenda towards more innovations.”
OFIA winners are chosen from applications sent through the OFIA Applications as well as papers submitted during the OWC. Click here to apply to the 3rd Organic Farming Innovation Awards.