A constantly growing world population, new consumer habits, climate change and the simultaneous increase in pressure on natural resources are raising the issue of sustainable production systems and global food security.
Here, organic agriculture is again and again referred to as a key solution, although in comparison to conventional production methods, yields are often lower. But not alone the aspect of productivity is crucial. Protecting the environment, the sustaina-ble use of natural resources, health aspects, animal welfare issues, fair producer prices, transparency and consumers’ faith in products all figure in the field of ten-sion addressed by the discussion over organic and conventional production ap-proaches.
An event in the “Research meets Practice” series held regularly by Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Bonn, Germany was devoted to this topic, addressing issues such as whether the world population can be fed solely by organic agriculture, or the different roles played by organic agriculture in developing countries, emerging economies and industrialised countries. How organic agriculture should be supported in future was another topic the meeting looked at.
The discussion partners in the event on the 10th July were Professor Dr Ulrich Köpke, Director of the Institute of Organic Agriculture at the University of Bonn, and Dr Stephan Krall, Manager of the Sector Project on Sustainable Agriculture in the GIZ Competence Centre Agricultural Production and Resource Use.
In the discussion, Köpke supported organic farming, and Stephen Krall particularly emphasised the importance of site-appropriate farming. Köpke held that the great advantage of ecological farming was its low impact on the environment. Krall focused on the personal needs of small farmers. He said that the limiting factor for organic products was the purchasing power in a society, which meant that in developing countries, producing “organic-label” goods was only profitable for export.
Köpke, on the other hand, felt that expanding organic farming required awareness-raising measures, research funding and appropriate political framework conditions. In terms of food security, Köpke emphasised that the issue of distribution was more important than the cultivation system used. The speakers agreed that there could be no black and white solution and that dogmatising the issue of bio-certification was not the right path to travel in the long term in order to achieve sustainable food security. The lively discussion led to numerous questions and contributions from an audience of some 120 individuals.