Workshop - BIOFACH2020

Boosting the organic sector by integrating breeding into value chain partnerships

During Biofach 2020, around 50 participants gathered to discuss opportunities for organic breeding development and financing by better integration within value chain partnerships. The workshop was organized by FiBL in the context of Engagement.Biobreeding Europe project launch. The ambition of Engagement.Biobreeding is to create awareness on European level for the need and benefit of organic breeding and to promote novel financial concepts and fair value chain partnerships in different regions of Europe.

The invited speakers at the workshop presented positive cases of interaction among value chain actors (breeders, farmers, processors, retailers and consumers) for promoting organic breeding.

Bavo Van den Idsert fromOrganic Processing and Trade Association Europe (OPTA), reported a generally positive attitude of European organic processing and trade companies towards organic breeding. As example, he reported the initiative in the Netherlands that from 2017 involves actors from the whole potato value chain in the country and that is allowing to develop late-blight resistant potato cultivars. This value chain partnership facilitated the response to organic potato cultivation decrease in the Netherlands because of late-blight disease impact. The initiative shows that value chain partnerships can positively support organic breeding to overcome farmers’ production problematics, ensuring a positive impact along on the whole value chain.

Mathilde Tournebize, officer at Organic Cotton Accelerator, shared the experience of Seeding the Green future, a program funded by a large number of organic cotton brands, which finances the development, through participatory breeding, of organic cotton cultivars in India. This example shows how participatory plant breeding can actually initiate positive returns for local farmers as well as for the other actors when embedded within a value chain partnership. The “accelerator model” of the organic cotton case can be of inspiration for other cases, in the textile but also in the food sector.

Fabio Brescacin, president of EcorNaturaSì  pointed out at the social responsibility of the organic retailer sector and how contributing to the management of biodiversity and development of suitable cultivars locally adapted is part of the organic principles that connect all the actors in the sector. “Seminare il futuro” foundation in Italy is an example of how the retailer sector can engage in promoting and financing organic breeding, supporting the integrity of organic products and promoting awareness raising among the consumers.

Pierre Escodo, editor of Eurofresh distribution magazine,  presented additional strategies at marketing level that can support awareness raising and strengthen consumer confidence.

These cases were followed by contributions from the participants, including an update on the initiative for developing a financing platform for organic breeding in Germany and Switzerland coordinated by BÖLW . Overall, this workshop was a good occasion for starting an exchange among initiatives from different geographical provenience and focusing on different breeding targets.

Engagement.Biobreeding will promote further this dialog in different areas of Europe, expanding the discussion to the need for plant and animal breeding integration and for the development of a common sustainable funding scheme based on value chain partnerships.