THE International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) has been working towards establishing an IFOAM Asia member group to bring independent Asian member countries under the one umbrella. IFOAM president Andre Leu attended talks in the Republic of Korea last year to map out a timeline to establish this history-making IFOAM Asia.
After two days of discussion, 18 leaders of the organic movements in Asia from 13 countries agreed on the formation of a regional organic alliance in Asia on June 1, 2012. It was agreed that the regional body will be under the umbrella of IFOAM and would be known as ‘IFOAM Asia’. Much of the discussion at the two-day meeting focused on the reasons for the formation of the alliance and the nature and objectives of the alliance.
Mr Leu and World Board member Mathew John, from India, were keynote global speakers. The meeting ended with general agreement on the formation of the regional alliance and the formation of a 10-member Working Group to prepare the necessary paperwork, organisational structure and other details needed for approval from the IFOAM World Board.
IFOAM Asia’s mission is to nurture and represent the organic movement in Asia in its full cultural context and diversity. The new regional body will work in synergy alongside Global IFOAM with a common vision to more effectively further the organic movement in Asia. It will be a regional self-organised structure and a non-profit membership-based organisation, open to all IFOAM affiliates and other stakeholders of Organic Agriculture in Asia.
The meeting was sponsored by the Korean Federation of Sustainable Agriculture Organizations (KFSA), one of the organisers of the historic 17th IFOAM Organic World Congress in 2011. KFSA is the largest federation of organic groups in South Korea with 38 member groups and has been the counter for dialogue with the central government since its establishment in 1994.
Mr Leu said the move to form a united IFOAM Asia was to enable Asian members to “get more things done on a regional level, rather than co-ordinating with IFOAM’s head office in Bonn’’. He said the Asian member countries were strong advocates for establishing and developing organic agricultural systems to boost their economies and standard of living, and safeguard the environment.
Mr Leu highlighted the organic agricultural development in South Korea as a good example of the many benefits of organic farming systems. And, in the Korean case, the development of organic farming systems has also crossed political boundaries with farming and government bodies from both South and North Korea liaising in training and workshops.
The Republic of Korea (South Korea) hosted the 17th IFOAM Organic World Congress (2011) which, among many other initiatives, was touted as significantly contributing to world peace by easing the tension between the two Koreas by facilitating more participation of North Korean researchers and farmers.