The Organic Leadership Course (OLC) is organised annually by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and takes place in a new country connected to organic agriculture. In 2019 the OLC was held in Lithuania from 22nd to 29th of June and addressed the following main topics: organic agriculture pioneers; the history of the organic movement; the IFOAM organic principals of Health; Ecology, Fairness and Care; certification, standards and regulations; as well as alternative systems such as Internal Control Systems (for group certification) and Participatory Guarantee Systems (designed for countries or regions where funding for official certification is difficult).
Margarit Tigranyan, a young female researcher within the APPEAR project “Building Organic Agriculture in Armenia | BOAA” was among 20 participants. BOAA aims at developing an organic agriculture master's program curriculum at ANAU (Armenian National Agricultural University). Margarit will teach plant protection once the master programme has started at ANAU. Due to diversity of the participants and international nature of the course Margarit learned about organic farming, particularly in a global context. She states that for her it is very important to be aware of global developments in this field, to understand the fundamentals of organic and to share her knowledge with the rest of the team.
The OLC course 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, participants had a unique chance to visit the Auga group, which has 38,000 hectares of ecologically certified fields. In addition to the 8 days of the face to face course, OLC students will also have webinars throughout the year where trainers give more detailed information concerning additional organic topics such as the International project environment, IFOAM advocacy, and Organic 3.0 developments. The second part of the OLC course will be held in Germany in 2020. For that part, the participants will explore more about third party certification. Furthermore, they will present an organic sector development strategy that they have been working on individually for their respective country. The author of the winning strategy will join the annual Biofach event in Germany. Margarit would be very excited to join Biofach, as it is the largest organic trade fair in the world. Margarit underlined that she will present the knowledge gained to her fellow BOAA teaching team colleagues. Furthermore, she stressed the importance of the valuable international organic network that she has built during the course which will enable future cooperation. IFOAM provides partial scholarships to selected candidates, so those who are interested in organics may apply for this unique opportunity. Margarit Tigranyan‘s participation was also possible thanks to partial funding by APPEAR.