Farming and Agriculture

OrganicAdviceNetwork Project Kick-off Marks the Beginning of the First European Network of Organic Advisors

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09 May 2024, Europe: In April 2024, the OrganicAdviceNetwork project, funded by the European Union and Switzerland, brought together 18 partners from various European countries in Brussels for a three-day event to plan the first steps of this Europe-wide initiative. FiBL Switzerland and FiBL Germany are part of the consortium and are responsible for developing online training modules for advisors and supporting the development of organic fruit production in Europe.

Aligned with the EU’s target of achieving 25 % organic farmland by 2030, as part of the Farm to Fork Strategy, the project addresses the urgent need for skilled advisors in organic farming. Its main objective is to create and animate a network of organic advisors throughout the 27 EU Member States and 7 other European countries.

Kick-off meeting in Brussels

The kick-off meeting, which took place from 9 to 11 April 2024, provided the project partners with an opportunity to exchange ideas, discover the diversity of organic advisory services and take ownership of the project’s mission.

On the first day of the kick-off meeting, Natalia Brzezina, Policy Officer at the European Commission, Directorate-General Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), and Céline Choquer, Project Officer at the Research Executive Agency (REA), warmly welcomed the consortium partners. They highlighted the European Union’s commitment to supporting research and innovation and stressed the important role of the OrganicAdviceNetwork project in reaching the EU targets through strengthened organic advisory services.

During the meeting, emphasis was placed on identifying effective knowledge exchange tools, addressing key knowledge gaps among advisors, and developing strategies to recruit advisors for the project activities. Participants discussed how to best communicate and disseminate the project outcomes to actors of the Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS), both within and beyond the organic community. They also discussed how to create synergies with other EU projects, initiatives and policymakers.

Furthermore, project coordinator IFOAM Organics Europe, representing the European organic sector, outlined the upcoming steps to establish and energize a pan-European network of advisors and advisory services for organic in Europe.

Animating the European network of organic advisors

The project will organize 30 cross-visits across five geographical zones: 20 cross-visits for arable and ruminant sectors and 10 for the vegetable, fruit and viticulture sectors.

Further animation of the network is foreseen through continuous knowledge exchange activities. These include soft skills training and online training modules covering diverse agricultural topics to support new and experienced organic advisors.

Special attention will be given to conventional advisors and young graduates willing to acquire skills in organic advice. The project will also identify and promote successful business models for structuring and financing organic advisory services through an “Organic Advice Contest”.

Roles of FiBL Switzerland and FiBL Germany

FiBL Switzerland and FiBL Germany are partners in this project. As work package leaders, they are jointly responsible for developing online training courses for young and experienced advisors across Europe.

Online training courses on the principles of organic agriculture will be developed as a “Massive Open Online Course” (MOOC). So-called “online self-learning pathways” should encourage advisors to deepen their knowledge of specific agricultural topics.

In addition to the online courses, the FiBL Switzerland team leads the thematic network on fruit production and provides the project with technical input regarding organic fruit production issues.

Contact for joining the network

While advisory services from 14 European countries are already involved in the project, the OrganicAdviceNetwork welcomes new and experienced organic advisors to join the project activities (cross-visits, soft-skills training, online courses and other knowledge exchange activities). If interested, please contact the responsible FiBL team members.

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