SME ORGANICS: STAKEHOLDERS AND POLICYMAKERS LEARN ABOUT ORGANIC ACTION PLAN DEVELOPMENT IN ITALY

IFOAM EU together with other project partners and regional stakeholders travelled to Puglia, in the South of Italy, for the third interregional Field Visit of the SME ORGANICS project. The visit was hosted by the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (IAMB) which is part of the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) and the regional Government of Puglia.

On Day 1 project partners had the opportunity at CIHEAM-IAMB to exchange on different regional examples regarding training and advice deemed to be of interest in the development of partners’ regional organic plans. Partners also discussed the latest developments in the project’s implementation. This was followed by plenary sessions with regional stakeholders on Day 2 at the Government of Puglia. Here participants learned about the policy support options available to producers and SMEs, and best practice initiatives by organic stakeholders in the Puglia region. This included the development of an observatory for monitoring the development of organic farming in the region and a forum for bringing together social agriculture initiatives amongst other. Participants also had the chance to visit regional organic SMEs including olive oil processing, pasta production and an agri-tourism business.

The final day included discussions and exchange, facilitated by Stephen Meredith, IFOAM EU Deputy Policy Manager and Nic Lampkin, Executive Director of the Organic Research Centre, on training and advice for the organic sector at different stages in the food chain and a series of break-out sessions on action plan thematic areas. The next field visit will also take place in Italy, in the Lombardy region in April 2017.

Elsewhere IFOAM EU hosted a special SME ORGANICS session at BIOFACH on 16 February 2017. An overview of this session can be found under the BIOFACH event review in this newsletter.

SME ORGANICS seeks to improve policies and programmes under the EU’s Investment for Growth and Jobs goal in order to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of the SMEs in the organic sector of the participating regions. The project aims both at enhancing entrepreneurship but also at supporting existing SMEs in improving their performance.

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