SLU news

New research agenda for organic agriculture

Published: 30 January 2013

In an open process, the most important future challenges and knowledge needs has been defined for the organic food chain's way towards increased sustainability, efficiency, and environmental and societal benefits.

The new research agenda, developed by EPOK together with stakeholders in the food chain and in dialogue with researchers and research funding, is intended to serve as a basis for targeting and prioritization of future research efforts. An important aim is also to contribute with relevant issues and provide inspiration for researchers based on actual knowledge needs.

- Over the past fifteen years, research on organic farming has to a large extent been financed by earmarked funds. This has resulted in many innovative and forward-looking projects not likely to have been implemented otherwise, says Maria Wivstad, director of EPOK and editor of the agenda.

- The research agenda highlights the need for interdisciplinary research on sustainable solutions that manage conflicting objectives in a serious manner. It also highlights the need for more interaction between research and practice, says Maria Wivstad.

Three themes and five focus areas
Three themes were identified to describe the overarching challenges of organic agriculture and the organic food chain are facing to develop the production and consumption and achieve greater sustainability: "Robust system", "Added value for the environment and society" and "Competitiveness and thriving rural communities". Based on the three themes, five focus areas are defined:

  • High productivity and maintained sustainability
  • Innovative production systems with many functions
  • Closed-loop cycles and renewable resources
  • Sustainable business and development of markets
  • Health food with added value

The focus areas span the entire food chain, from primary production, processing and marketing to consumption of organic food. Within each focus area examples of research areas are listed. These involve both short-term issues and long-term challenges, ranging from close to the agricultural sector to a community-oriented perspective.