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Leadership and organic agriculture

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is an umbrella organization that is aimed at leading, uniting and assisting the organic movement worldwide with its full diversity.

Staying true to its core values IFOAM Organics International organizes an Organic Leadership Course (OLC) every year. Each year the organizers choose a new country connected to organic agriculture. In 2019, the OLC was held in Lithuania, from 22 of June till 29 of June. We learn a lot about the organic sector. In our training group including 20 participants, we learn the following main topics: Organic agriculture pioneers, history, principals, Organic guarantee systems, Certification, Standards and regulations, Alternative systems: ICS, PGS.

As a plant protection specialist involved in the ''Building Organic Agriculture in Armenia (BOAA)'' project I was fortunate enough to participate in the OLC course this year. Because the BOAA project team is developing an organic agriculture master's program curriculum and as part of this team, it was very important for me to be aware of global developments in organic agriculture, fundamentals of organic and share my knowledge with the rest of the team. IFOAM provides a partial scholarship to selected candidates, so those who are interested in organics may apply for this unique opportunity. My participation in this course was also possible thanks to partial funding received from the Austrian Partnership Programme in Higher Education and Research for Development (APPEAR) program. The OLC course this year encompassed a diverse range of topics, including fundamentals of the organic sector, organic value chains, and organic guarantee systems to name a few. Aside from the indoor training sessions, we had a unique chance to visit the Auga group, which has 38,000 hectares of ecologically certified fields. 

In addition to the 8 days face to face course, we will also have webinars throughout the year where our trainers give more detailed information about these topics: International project environment, IFOAM advocacy, Organic 3.0 developments. 

The second part of the OLC course will be held in Germany in 2020. For that part, we will explore more about third-party certification and will present an organic sector development strategy we have been working on individually for our own countries. The author of the winning strategy will join the annual Biofach event in Germany. I would be very excited to join Biofach, as it is the biggest organic trade fair in the world. 

Due to this experience, I have had the opportunity to learn important information concerning organic farming, particularly in a global context due to the international participants and the nature of the course.  I will now be giving a presentation and workshop session to my fellow BOAA teaching team to disseminate the information I gained as well as the valuable international organic network I have built.

Picture credit: IFOAM Organics International