The 17th IFOAM Organic World Congress

Posted on: 15th February 2013

Organically Yours
Ong Kung Wai

Nov 2011



“Organic is Life”

Once every three (3) years, the organic community, i.e. scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, consultants, activists, policy makers and sector development leaders, get together to exchange knowledge, debate, network and discuss development plans for the organic sector.

The 17th Organic World Congress took place for the first time in Asia in Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.  The 3 day conference include many side events.  There were Pre-conference seminars on Aquaculture, Textiles & Cosmetics, Wine, Ginseng and others.  Bio-tours of organic farms and food processing. An open farmers' market festival, product exhibition, agriculture theme park for children, art fair and concerts.  Also a gathering of Slow Food producers and activists.  About 245,000 people, including 660 international visitors were reported.


1,017 papers were submitted and 737 selected for presentation at the Organic World Congress.  They include scientific research and activity reports on topics ranging from weed management to food quality, sector development and climate change mitigation or adaptation.  The 1,963 persons who registered for the conference programme had more than they can manage to listen to over the 3 days.  For those who are more active, there were 20 discussion workshops to get involved in.

More than 10 Malaysians were present including a keynote speaker. Organic Alliance Malaysia (OAM) was fortunate to receive 3 sponsorships, allowing pioneer farmer Lee Ong Sing of Cameron Organic Producers and Chua Ann Ann of N&N Farm in Sarawak to join other farmers from different parts of the world at the Intercontinental Network of Organic Farmers Organisations (INOFO) workshop. 

It was the first international organic conference for them.  It seems 'We are not alone' Mr. Lee commented.  Even among the many, Ann Ann, a young woman in her twenties choosing to be a farmer was a rare flower.  Both came back inspired and enthusiastic to do more.

 “Organic is Life”  Life, ever present, is easily taken for granted.  A godly gift perhaps, manifest in nature that supports us even without our understanding of its processes.  Whilst it was not evident in the past, it is now clear that what 7 billion people do everyday determines the face of the Earth and the weather.  We, as all life forms do, manifest within elemental cycles.  The Carbon and Nitrogen cycles affect us as much as the Money cycle.  Volatility of weather can cause market supply problems, precipitating economic hardship and uncertainty.  It is said there is NO stable Economy without a stable Ecology.  An axiom that hits home as we witness extraordinary weather incidents worldwide lately. 

Even as the individual may feel he or she is less significant as being only one among 7 billion, his or her lifestyle choice today is never more significant.  Society's consumption and lifestyle choice shapes the world.  Each individual choice has an environmental, social as well as political impact.  If we want a more stable environment we need to choose and maintain ecological friendly products and services.  It is through individual choice that society defines itself and the world.  The conference in Korea clearly underlined the importance of Organic Agriculture to Carbon and Nitrogen cycles and Life.