Introduction

Globalization and its effects on food markets pose new challenges to farmers, governments and international organizations aiming to reduce rural poverty. Agricultural producers are subjected to high standards and to the volatility of prices in international markets. At the same time, however, globalization may open new opportunities for small producers.

With increasing retail sales and high medium-term growth rates, organic food production could represent a promising alternative, especially for small farmers in developing countries, since organic agriculture is labour-intensive in terms of production and supervision and, if applied correctly, does not have a negative impact on producers or the environment.

To tap into these new markets, small producers must overcome a number of hurdles, such as lack of technical know-how, limited storage and processing facilities, inadequate market information, complex certification processes and insufficient financing. It is vital to have supportive government policies that foster development in these sectors, particularly in the case of the rural poor, who often lack access to the technological and financial resources needed to take advantage of these new opportunities.

IFAD Evaluations of Organic Agriculture

In this context, IFAD's Office of Evaluation has conducted two evaluations - with funding from the Italian Government - of organic agriculture among small farmers across Latin America and Asia. The evaluations sought to: offer lessons and insights on whether organic methods ought to be a part of development programmes and strategies for IFAD and the countries concerned; establish if such methods are valid and profitable for small farmers; and identify under what circumstances they should be fostered so as to optimize their benefits and minimize potential difficulties. To better determine the role of organics for small farmers in Asia and Latin America, the evaluations focused on a varied series of case studies and several key areas:

  • The characteristics of organic production and marketing
  • The impact of organic production on small farmers and their communities
  • The specific constraints and opportunities faced by organic producers
  • The role of institutions and the public sector

The evaluations explored the pros and cons of adopting organic methods in terms of poverty reduction, food security and trade. From this work, a set of conclusions was drawn synthesizing the most important lessons and key success factors that help identify, motivate and design projects in which organic methods could be a useful component.

Presentation Objectives

The aims of the presentation are to:

  • disseminate information to Italian stakeholders on the lessons learned from this evaluation on organic agriculture in Latin America and Asia,
  • stimulate discussion and share experiences among key Italian representatives of the organic agricultural sector,
  • provide lessons and conclusions that will contribute to shaping future Italian initiatives in fighting poverty by investing in organic agriculture, and
  • contribute to the identification of potential partnerships for future Italian interventions in this sector.

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