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Name: Naturland
Country: Global
Active Since: 1982

Member of IFOAM – Organics International since 1987

We spoke to Sophie Egerer, Naturland’s Academy Coordinator, to discover how Naturland is pioneering organic practices, empowering farmers, and cultivating strategies driving sustainable agriculture forward.

Naturland is an international association of organic farmers in 60 countries. Please tell us what the organisation aims to achieve, and how it aims to pursue its objectives?

We have over 116,000 organic farmers in 60 countries around the world now work according to Naturland standards. Cooperatives and producer groups around the world are Naturland members, consolidating Naturland’s role as an association for smallholder agriculture.

Our members form a large community from the fields of agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries, beekeeping as well as forestry and work together with partners from processing, trade and gastronomy. We operate according to organic and social principles, in harmony with nature, and in a spirit of fair and mutual cooperation. Together, we want to change society for the better. The Naturland certification therefore combines high organic standards and social responsibility and ensure that they’re adhered to.

Supported by our global network, we’re on a mission to regenerate the Earth. We take care of plants, animals, soil, water and climate, respecting the boundaries of our ecosystems. We search for practical solutions based on science and research to achieve an eco-friendly food industry that secures the livelihoods of small farmers around the world.

© Naturland e.V

In what ways does your organisation champion organic practices?

Naturland has been pioneering organic farming for more than 40 years. We are constantly working on new approaches to strengthen the ecological concept and to bring it into new areas. This includes, for example, standards for aquaculture, fisheries and forestry.

On the one hand, Naturland is promoting organic along the whole value chain. We take into account the needs of the producers who are working according to organic principles. But we also consider the processors and retailers who are part of this value chain.

On the other hand, farmers can produce organically only if the quality of their products and farming practices is recognised and valued. We therefore campaign alongside civil society for sustainable farming practices and healthy food in several countries of the world.

© Naturland e.V

Naturland recently launched an Academy. What are its key features and objectives?

Naturland requires its farmers to maintain high sustainable farming practices and constantly improve their ecosystems. On top of that, farmers all around the globe face increasing challenges due to the climate crises. We, therefore, want to increase our support to our members and interested farmers and strengthen their skills by creating a community for peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. We launched the Naturland Academy to enable this. The Naturland Academy will develop capacities around the world and empower smallholder farmers to be well-equipped for future challenges.

We are working with different formats: the digital world provides opportunities to share knowledge despite geographic distances through e-learning courses, online seminars and the share of tailor-made resources like fact sheets and videos. But you also need to feel and taste to learn about agriculture That is why we are always combining digital formats with face-to-face trainings, in this way creating self- and cohort-paced web-based courses.

The Academy will empower smallholder farmers to be well-equipped for future challenges © Naturland e.V

What are the tangible benefits brought forth by organisations such as IFOAM – Organics International?

IFOAM – Organics International already launched its Academy 10 years ago. It has gathered very valuable experience as well as a network of trainers and multipliers around the world, from which Naturland can learn and benefit.

The Naturland Academy and the Global Academy of IFOAM – Organics International will complement each other well. The Naturland Academy primarily targets smallholder farmers and advisory services around the world. But while the farmers are the one practicing farming, we know that the development of organic farming relies a lot on leaders, good organisations, policy and regulation environment. This is the level that the Global Academy of IFOAM is addressing and specialised on.

© Naturland e.V

What strategies prove most effective in bolstering support for organic farmers?

Together! Neither of our institutions can support organic farmers worldwide alone. This can only be successful if both of our Academies adopt complementary approaches, programs and competences. That is how we will approach the cooperation between the Global Academy and the Naturland Academy: we are looking for complementarities, so that our respective institutions can concentrate their resources and competences in one direction, knowing that the other is taking care of the remaining topics.

A conversion to organic is requires a lot of knowledge on very different levels: on the crop of course, the prevention of pest and disease, but also on fertilisation and nutrient management, and more generally on farm management, certification methods as well as on the organic market. It is a new “world” that the converting farmer is entering into, which means a big need for practical and easily  accessible knowledge. This is exactly why both of our institutions place knowledge share and dissemination at the core of their services.

Find out more about Naturland's Academy