APPEAR in practice_9: Organic agriculture in action

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This event presents experiences on organic agriculture in higher education and research from APPEAR projects in Armenia and Uganda.

15th of May 2018, 7 pm, at OeAD

Registration until 12th of May 2018.

As a well-known knowledge driven farming method, organic agriculture strives towards sustainability through improved soil fertility and biological diversity while prohibiting synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics, and genetically modified organisms. Steadily increasing in popularity, organic agriculture continues its global boom today. This means each year there are more organic farmers, rising numbers of organically managed land, growing organic markets, and further political recognition. This boom in organic farming demands skilled human resources at all institutional and organisational levels. The Division of Organic Farming/Working group Transdisciplinary Systems Research at BOKU, Vienna has the privilege to work on two APPEAR projects with partners in Armenia (Armenian National Agrarian University) and Uganda (Mountains of the Moon University). In order to contribute to these demands, these projects focus on the facilitation of sustainable agriculture education, training, curricula and demonstration and research farm development in a transdisciplinary way.

Incorporating a systemic perspective these projects involve stakeholders and their demands enabling all project partners to engage in active and participatory roles in influencing the progress and outcomes of the projects and to develop a sense of ownership. Moreover, we unfailingly revisit organic values in terms the four organic principles of health, ecology, fairness and care throughout our work.

The Armenian APPEAR project is titled Building Organic Agriculture in Armenia; Improving the knowledge and skills of organic stakeholders through participatory curriculum development and outreach (BOAA). BOAA has been created to help deliver the need for an increase in organic agriculture professionals skilled for research and practice in the Armenian context. The Armenian government, in collaboration with the EU and the Austrian Development Cooperation has recently launched support for increasing organic agriculture to mitigate marginalized people in impoverished areas, better handle small farm sizes within the country and ensure the conservation of water, soil and biodiversity. To fulfill this need BOAA has been designed as a transdisciplinary project developing and implementing an Armenian organic master’s programme with place-based, stakeholder involved curriculum.

In Uganda the APPEAR project Strengthening of Higher Education, Research and Community Outreach in Agro-Ecology in the Rwenzori Region in Western Uganda (AER) is implemented in the Rwenzori Region with the Mountains of the Moon University, Fort Portal. The main objective of AER is to build capacities in higher education, research and community outreach in the field of agro-ecology adapted to the Rwenzori region and to establish a master curriculum. These activities should counter the enormous challenges - over exploitation of its natural resources, high population growth rates and poverty among the majority of the smallholder households - with the collaborative elaboration of solutions with local stakeholders.

The event takes place in collaboration with the Centre for Development Research and the Division Organic Farming at University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.

Panellists:

Bernhard Freyer

Univ. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Freyer heads the Division of Organic Farming as well as the working group of Transdisciplinary Systems Research at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna and has been a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota in the USA since 2011. His research focuses on systems theory and societal change within the context of organic agriculture and low input systems in Northern and Southern countries. His most recent research is on the sustainability of monasteries, farmer-consumer partnerships, ethics in the organic agro-food system, consumer behavior, climate change and smallholder farmer systems (in the tropics). He has organized and has headed several national and international research projects, is guiding PhD and master thesis since more than 25 years and offers lectures in a broad field of topics within organic agriculture, methods and theories in social sciences. Furthermore he is reviewer in several journals in the field of social sciences, ethics and ecology.

Astghik Sahakyan

Astghik Sahakyan graduated from the Agribusiness Teaching Center (ATC) at the International Center for Agribusiness Research and Education (ICARE) Foundation in Yerevan, Armenia. Since 2017, she has been working in ICARE’s research department on the project Building Organic Agriculture in Armenia. Additional agribusiness research projects she has been involved with, such as curriculum building for a greenhouse short-course, have mainly focused on value chain analysis and stakeholders' needs assessments. She also is a teaching assistant at the ATC in the courses “International Economics” and ”Statistics for Managers”, and is the communications manager of the Armenian chapter of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) movement.

Charles Ssekyewa

Prof. Charles Ssekyewa is a Ugandan specialized in tropical and subtropical horticulture, crop science and organic agriculture with a special emphasize on integrated pest management, agro-ecosystem analysis and molecular virology. Previously he served as Research Scientist in the National Agriculture Research Organization (NARO) for 14 years, as Pioneer Dean for the Faculty of Agriculture for 6 years, and Director of Research for Uganda Martyrs University for 4 years. He headed a number of international research and development projects and now is involved within the AER project at the Mountains of the Moon University, Fort Portal. Charles Ssekyewa was the General Secretary for the International Society of Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR), Chairman Uganda Organic Certification Company Board of Directors and Associate Professor of Agriculture for the Agro-Ecology Master’s Degree Programme of Uganda Martyrs University.

Facilitator: Dr. Rosana Kral, Centre for Development Research (CDR), University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.