Review of events

TP Organics’ Science Day: 29 July, Nuremberg, Germany

TP Organics’ Science Day 2022 at BIOFACH’s summer edition was dedicated to digital technology for local and small-scale processing.

Eduardo Cuoco, TP Organics Head of Secretariat kicked the Congress session off by introducing TP Organics, the European Technology Platform’s network comprising of 127 members from the entire food supply chain. Its mission is to strengthen research and innovation for organic and other agroecological approaches contributing to sustainable food and farming systems. Join TP Organics to get the latest research updates, upcoming funding opportunities, brokerage services and more!

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Eduardo Cuoco introducing TP Organics at Science Day 2022 Credits – Maria Gernert

SmartAgriHubs: Fostering digital innovation & free online portal

Digitalisation is one of many tools to transform food and farming. IFOAM Organics Europe is a partner in the Horizon 2020 SmartAgriHubs (SAH) project fostering digital innovation hubs. You can also become part of the SmartAgriHubs innovation portal and/or learn more about the conditions digital technology has to fulfil to be fit for agroecological practices in the article on the SAH blog!

Of course, we need to make sure digitalisation processes help transform our food system, in line with the organic and agroecological principles. Find out how in our publication Agroecology & digitalisation – Traps and opportunities to transform the food system.

Robotics in (organic) agriculture

As first speaker, Grigoris Chatzikostas, Vice-President of Business Development at Impact Venture Studio FoodScale Hub, introduced Robs4Crops, a spin-off project of SmartAgriHubs that is also coordinated by Wageningen University and Research. This Horizon 2020 project implements technologies in large-scale field trials to increase safety and reduce the use of inputs, the overall carbon footprint of food production and pressure on soil while preserving land, among others.

Digital technologies in organic controls

Besides in farming, digitalisation can also be used in other parts of the supply chain. Just like organic farming, retail and trade are also about trust. Bogdan Dreihaupt, Managing Director at Control Union Certifications Ukraine introduced Control Union, a family certification business active in more than 70 countries which is leading in sustainability and agriculture-related standards.

In his presentation, Mr Dreuhayps talked about the challenges and opportunities for organic certification digital technology holds, e.g., streamlining and storing data. Moving forward, and considering recent crises, from COVID-19 to the Ukraine war, solutions include smart data management (documentation checks), quality remote and hybrid compliance audits, application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in risk assessment, benchmarking across different sustainability standards and combination audits (e.g., GLOBAL GAP, EU ORG, USDA NOP).

Reseach & innovation in EU policies

Elena Panichi, Head of the Organics Unit at the Commissions Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), pointed out that many of the actions foreseen in the EU Organic Action Plan to realise the Farm to Fork target of 25% organic farmland by 2030 relate to traceability and transparency. According to Actions 6, 7 and 14, digital technologies such as AI and blockchain can help strengthen organic certification and support short supply chains.

In addition to digitalisation and IT-related calls for projects, funding opportunities under Horizon Europe also include the Agriculture of Data partnership, which will support sustainable agriculture in the EU, as well as policy monitoring and implementation by using digital and data technologies (in particular AI) in environmental observation (consult the final partnership proposal).

As future opportunities, the topic “Developing EU advisory networks on consumer-producer chains” to facilitate the upscaling of short supply chains was mentioned, as were the topics on “Sustainable organic food innovation labs” to reinforce upstream sections of the organic food value chains and “Towards sustainable livestock systems”, which are all part of the next Horizon Europe Work Programme (2023-2024). Ms. Panichi also referred to other European policy instruments like DIGITALEUROPE (focus on innovation and development, capacity building) and Common Agricultural Policy (focus on application, capacity building, innovation).

Download the presentations on the TP Organics website and stay tuned for the next edition at BIOFACH 2023 from 14-17 February, which will be about sustainable organic food innovation labs!

If the content of this article resonates with you, consider attending the final SmartAgriHubs conference from 26-28 September in Lisbon. It will bring together all actors in the field of digitalisation. You can also consider saving the date for TP Organics’ Organic Innovation Days on 11-12 October in Brussels and at agricultural research and knowledge centre Inagro – register now to save your free spot! TP Organics is the European Technology Platform for Organic Food and Farming. IFOAM Organics Europe is a founding member and hosts its secretariat. Visit www.tporganics.eu for more information and follow its Twitter @TPorganics.

This event is co-financed by the European Union, under the Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA). The sole responsibility for this communication lies with IFOAM Organics Europe. CINEA is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.

BIOFACH’s summer edition: Inspiring sessions and meeting the sector: 26-29 July 2022, Nurimberg, Germany

The most important yearly appointment of the organic movement worldwide, BIOFACH took place again in person on 26-29 July 2022. At the fair, organic operators from across the supply chain, organic association representatives and decisionmakers and many more met, exchanged and learned.

This year, our booth moved to the ‘international hall’ 3A, booth 517, where we met many visitors, old and collaborators and our colleagues from IFOAM’s across the world.

Of course, we contributed to the BIOFACH programme with several sessions zooming in on policy, regulation and research which we organized or spoke at. Our full programme of is available on our website.

Rather than writing a long report, we will share the highlights of each session through the live tweeting we did.

Day 1: Policy day with the Commission, German government and Members of the European Parliament

Day 3:  Youth, certification, new GMOs, and carbon farming

We started off day 3 attending an engaging session and a young panel, talking about youth in organic. This session could not come more timely, as we had our first Organics Europe’s Youth Event in Frick, Switzerland 31 August-1 September. If this sounds interesting to you, you can still check out what we learned during the youth event.

Following the youthful session, we had a session, organized by our Interest Group on Organic Certification and Integrity, about the future of organic certification

Together with the audience, we raised many questions about what the future could bring!

We also spoke at a session by BÖLW on new GMOs and their place in organic. Speakers to this session agreed that new GMOs should fall under the existing GMO regulation – as the European Court of Justice ruled in 2018. Later that day, our session on carbon farming tackled many issues related to organic’s potential to mitigate climate change, concrete actions the sector is already taking and an interesting report by Ecovalia showing how organic farming in the Mediterranean outperforms other types of agriculture in its climate resilience (currently only available in Spanish).

Day 4: TP Organics’ Science Day

Before travelling back, we still attended TP Organics’ Science Day to discuss digital technologies for local and small-scale processing. This hands on session showed practical examples of the opportunities digitalisation can offer. For a full report, read more in our newsletter.

Of course, we did not only organise sessions. We also celebrated our 20th birthday, IFOAM – Organics International’s 50th and IFOAM Organics Asia’s’s 10th! Thank you to BIOFACH for wishing us well and to our colleagues at the other IFOAM’s for sharing such nice celebration!

You still have the time to celebrate with us throughout 2022 and to add your voice to the #YearOfOrganics!

Organic and You(th): Re-imagining the future of food: 31 August-1 September, Frick, Switzerland

We are facing a global climate and biodiversity crises and a war in Europe. It seems discouraging. However, at the first edition of our Organics Europe Youth Event, we heard the voices of the future, and they are overflowing with imagination and hope! Agriculture, organic, and organic youth are part of the solution – as participants in our event demonstrated.

Here are some of the key take-aways from our two days of imagination, connection and questioning the current food system at the Organics Europe Youth Event in Frick, Switzerland.

1. Our panel on market actors, politics and youth opened with food for thought on the current situation. The panellist agreed that we need social, economic, and political innovation and that it is important consumers know how their food is produced and who produces it, so it is better appreciated. 

2. In their discussion, the opening panel discussed collaboration between the value chain. The main question they raised was “Should the organic movement be bold or pragmatic in its direction?” 

3. Our keynote speaker, Rob Hopkins, inspired the audience. Climate change obliges us to re-imagine the future and be bold. Change is a community effort, and together we can realise a transformation if we are brave when we set our goals and empower our imagination. Be ridiculous!

4. Participants set their imagination to work in open-space discussion groups. They shared their perspectives on gender and sexual-based discrimination in agriculture, argued about how to make organic food accessible to everyone, and created ideas on how to support the Ukrainian organic sector.

5. During the inspirational hour, young entrepreneurs shared their courageous examples to transform the food system and the lessons they learned along the way. We remember the power of community, learning by doing and not giving up.

6. Joe Slater, in his closing keynote, challenged the audience on the moral obligations of sustainable agriculture; while Prof. Dr. Johanna Jacobi taught us that agroecology is much more than just biodiversity stripes next to conventional fields, it represents a social movement as well!

7. Some memorable things we take away from the event: Albert Einstein on his bicycle (trips), young people’s hope and entrepreneurial spirit, the beautiful surroundings & vegan and fair chocolate.

8. More than 150 participants from all over Europe and the world attended our first-ever youth event which made the event a real pioneer in the organic sector! The furthest travellers came from Iran, Ukraine, Georgia, and Algeria.

9. A heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to our sponsors, funders, speakers, co-organisers, technical consultants, members (and bingo enthusiasts)! You made this event one to remember!

10. Last but not least, event attendees genuinely connected through visionary discussions and inspirational thoughts centred around the focal questions of How can we do differently & How can we do better in our food system resulting in a sense of togetherness by the end of the event. Thus, we would like to thank You(th) for making this event a success!

Couldn’t attend the event, but curious about the memorable moments of it? Have a look at our Instagram account, our Twitter moments or listen to FiBL Focus’ podcast to learn about the opening panel on building sustainable food systems.

Stay tuned for the next edition of the Organics Europe Youth Event by subscribing to our newsletter at www.organicseurope.bio/newsletter and following @OrganicsEurope on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook. IFOAM Organics Europe will post updates about the youth event using #OEYE2022 and #OrganicYouth.

Feel free to contact [email protected] if you have any questions.

SANA exhibition in Bologna: 8-9 September, Bologna, Italy

Our Director, Eduardo Cuoco, colleagues were at the SANA exhibition in Bologna on 8-9 September to meet our Italian members and discuss the latest EU policy developments and IFOAM Organics Europe’s contributions to these.

On 8 September, Eduardo was involved in a roundtable on EU policies organized by Rivoluzione Bio. This was an occasion to discuss EU policies supporting the development of organic, like the European Organic Action Plan, and those that are hindering it, like sustainability labelling. Aside from the current EU policies, Eduardo also focused on policies for the future, like true cost accounting. In the afternoon,  he joined the Coldiretti seminar “Organic Made in Italy in Europe: agricultural development and markets”. The focus of the seminar was an analysis of the market perspectives provided to organic farmers nowadays. The following day, Eduardo gave a speech on “Digital and technology 4.0: the future of organic agriculture in Europe” during the BIOCEREAL 4.0 conference. In the speech he presented the current status quo of digitalization in organic agriculture and the perspective on the future.

SmartAgriHubs final event: 26-28 September, Lisbon, Portugal

SmartAgriHubs is coming to an end this year and had its final event in Lisbon from 26 to 28 September.

The first day of the SmartAgriHubs event was reserved to its members. The community gathered and discussed the achievements and challenges of the project.

The second and third day, the SmartAgriHubs ecosystem opened its door to the European agricultural and digital innovation community.

On Tuesday, 27 September, the focus of the SmartAgriHubs final event was on synergy with other European projects and prominent actors in the digitisation of agriculture. On the programme were keynote speeches, pitches by the EU projects and workshops on digital innovation in agriculture.

On this day, there were several contributions by IFOAM Organics Europe. Eduardo Cuoco, Director of IFOAM Organics Europe, gave a keynote speech about “Digitalisation in organic agriculture – where we are and where we go”. Moreover, IFOAM Organics Europe held a workshop on how digitalisation can support agroecology.

On Wednesday, 28 September, participants took part to more workshops on digitisation of agriculture and networking in the marketplace. SmartAgriHubs also organised a farm trip to one of its Flagship Innovation Experiments.

You can find more information about the event and the detailed programme here.

The Horizon 2020 project SmartAgriHubs aims to consolidate and foster an EU-wide network of Digital Innovation Hubs to enhance digital transformation for sustainable farming and food production. IFOAM Organics Europe is a project partner in the project. You can follow SmartAgriHubs on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram or visit the project’s website www.smartagrihubs.eu.

SmartAgriHubs has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 818182. This communication only reflects the author’s view. The Research Executive Agency is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information provided.

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