The First African Organic Conference (AOC) is focusing on clearly bringing out attributes of Organic Agriculture as a science relevant to food security, poverty alleviation and natural resources conservation in Africa, and hence the role that Organic Agriculture has in offering lasting solutions to the factors limiting economic and social growth on the continent. The conference also encourages the recognition that Organic Agriculture has to co-exist with other schools of thought. In this regard, the conference tries to harmonize our understanding of biotechnology vis-a-vis other strategic options and to explore a potential contribution to organic agriculture and economic development based on the organic principles. The AOC also offers a platform for experience sharing and discussion on best organic practices, standards, certification, trade, policy formulation and other development initiatives achieved over years, especially in the African Region. Participants can share and exchange knowledge, which is needed for the development of the Organic Agriculture sector in Africa and to realize its full potential towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
The AOC covers three main perspectives of organic knowledge including field research, scientific investigations as well as knowledge dissemination and exchange. Each conference day has an overall topic and will allow extensive discussion of the presented papers. The Conference attracts over 200 participants from across Africa with additional input coming from stakeholders from all over the world, who are interested in the development of Africa. At least 25 papers on Organic Agriculture will be presented including some dozens of posters. Four keynote papers on the relevance of organic sector development towards meeting the millennium development goals, addressing climate change, responding to biotechnology, and meeting the food security demands of Africa will be presented. There will also be highlight session on Indigenous Knowledge (IK), hence show-casing Organic Agriculture in social sciences.
Attentive participants will also realize a considerable increase of networking activities including the Launching of the African Organic Network (AON) and the Network for Organic Agriculture Research in Africa (NOARA). Likewise the African Organic Centre of Excellence will be kick-started, and the Organic Research Centers’ Alliance (ORCA) formation will be presented. The AOC is hosted by the National Organic Agricultural Movement of Uganda (NOGAMU) and Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) with technical support from Agro Eco- Louis Bolk Institute (AELBI), and the International Society for Organic Agriculture Research (ISOFAR).
We have high esteem in the contribution of this conference to the development and achieving of Millennium Development Goals in Africa. This would not be possible without the massive support to convening of this first African Organic Conference. On behalf of the organizing committee, we highly appreciate all those who supported the conference. Agriculture is a substantial contributor to climate change and is in turn seriously affected by it. Conventional and intensive agriculture characterized by mechanization and use of agro- chemicals (mineral fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides) and reliance on high external inputs (chemicals, irrigation, fossil fuels) have led to high environmental and social costs, including contributing to climate change, that may undermine future capacity to maintain required levels of food production. However, there is a large mitigation potential that can change agriculture from being the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to a much smaller emitter or even a net sink, while small-scale farmers and agro- ecological methods provide the way forward.