Future Tasks of Extension Services of Organic Organisations S8
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), CH-4104 Oberwil
|Only a couple of years ago, there was nobody but
the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and the producer's organisations to take
care of the advisory service for organic and in-conversion producers in Switzerland -
charged by the cantons. Times have changed: The dynamic growth of organic agriculture
calls up more and more of the official extension services. In collaboration with the FiBL,
a growing number of cantons are establishing their own extension services for organic
agriculture. They try to meet the increasing demand for advisory service, basic and
further training in organic agriculture. Many agricultural training and extension
facilities use organic advisory service as a means of offering special services in order
to acquire a strong image on the shrinking market of agricultural training. In parallel
with that development, state authorities will be less and less willing to compensate
organic organisations for their extension services. Pioneer institutions like ours have to
distinguish themselves by specific tasks and functions. Our strength is the experience
(over 20 years of extension), the professionalism (currently there are 14 advisors at the
FiBL), the close collaboration with research departments of the FiBL and the close
collaboration with the Association of the Swiss organic farmers-organisations (VSBLO).
Compared to extension services of organic organisations, the official extension lacks in
experience and background, but their strength is the financial power: official extension
services are payed by the state.
If the extension services of organic organisations don't want to become superfluous, they need a good working cooperation with the official extension services: While the official extension takes care more and more of the advising of in-conversion producers (1996: 1800 farms in Switzerland), the organic organisations should specialize in complexe advising matters (fruit-, wine-, vegetable-production a.s.o.) as well as in training and documentation of the extensionalists. The secound task would ensure a strong leading position for extension services of organic organisations.