The 17th edition of the European Organic Congress, organized by IFOAM Organics Europe and Ecovalia, is currently taking place in Cordoba, Spain. On the picture above, Eduardo Cuoco (IFOAM Organics Europe) presents during the European Organic Congress 1st session on “Opportunities and challenges for a sustainable agriculture food”.
This congress provides an invaluable opportunity for participants to engage in meaningful discussion on the most pressing organic topics, exchange regarding the sector’s current challenges, and be inspired by exemplary case studies and pioneering narratives across various facets of the organic industry.
IFOAM Organics Europe strongly believes that developing intercropping practices can stimulate the growth of the organic sector as growing cereal-legume mixture instead of sole crop enables to
- bridge the yield gap between conventional and organic farming
- facilitate weed and disease control
- maintain adequate nitrogen levels in soils while reducing the need for external nutrient inputs to the minimum
- improve the protein content of organically cultivated cereals and so, its quality.
Intercropping is strongly aligned with the 2030’s objectives of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategy, namely, 25% of Eu’s agricultural land under organic farming, at least 20% reduction in fertilizer use and 50% reduction in pesticides. Multicropping is also mentioned in the Nature Restoration law proposal as an example of restoration measures in agricultural ecosystems. Overall, this farming practice has the potential to enhance farmland biodiversity and accelerate the transition to a more sustainable food system.
Picture above: Intercropping of millet and cowpea sown in rows at the end of May. The crops covered well, controlling the development of weeds. Image from Cascina Bosco Fornosara, Pavia province, in the frame of CICS#11, organic farming in Italy. @ReteSemiRurali.
IntercropVALUES is a multi-disciplinary EU-funded project that aims to develop cereal-legume intercropping along the value chain. Scientists and local actors from 15 European and Southern countries are joining forces to investigate the benefits intercropping provides in terms of soil health, fertilizer use, weed and disease control as well as product quality. Suitable machinery for intercropping, innovative food processing techniques, and new market avenues for various intercropped products will be studied. In parallel, 13 co-innovation case studies will develop local and innovative agri-food chains based on intercropping. The overall aim of the project is to identify credible intercropping solutions that farmers and value chain actors can adopt.
Out of the 13 co-innovation case studies (CICS) established by IntercropVALUES, 4 of them are developed in organic agriculture (CICS#4 France, CICS#5 Germany, CICS#11 Italy and CICS#13 Switzerland) whereas 5 of them cover mixed farming practices (organic and conventional), being these CICS#3 UK, CICS#6 Greece, CICS#9 Serbia, CICS#10 France and CICS#12 Mozambique.
IFOAM Organics Europe responsibility in IntercropVALUES is to bring the project outcomes to the wider public. Concise practical information, and recommendations in the form of practice abstracts will be developed for farmers and advisors while policy briefs presenting the findings of the project in the form of policy proposal will be produced for decision makers and civil society actors. The organization will also identify exploitation routes for the results, to generate impact beyond the project.
Picture above: IFOAM Organics Europe members at a general assembly, 2023.
If you want to get a glimpse of the interesting topics that are addressed at the European Organic Congress, make sure to follow the live tweeting at @OrganicsEurope on Twitter/X.
The first practice abstracts and policy brief of IntercropVALUES are under development and will be diffused in the spring of next year. Stay tuned!
This news item was written by Claire Morelle (IFOAM Organics Europe)