Topic: The next step for organic production and consumption in Sweden: actors’ views on organic 3.0
Keywords: Sweden, organic production and consumption, focus groups, Organic 3.0
How can Organic 3.0 be operationalised in a national setting? How is Organic 3.0 and the challenges defined by IFOAM received by organic actors? These questions are discussed in this paper. The national setting is Sweden, which has seen a large growth of the organic market during the last few years, but also where numerous challenges for the future development of organic production can be identified. During Spring 2017, six focus group discussions were carried out with actors representing different parts of the organic value chain in Sweden: authorities, certification bodies, organic farmers, environmental NGOs and processors/end-consumers. In addition, a seminar with researchers knowledgeable in the field was held as well as a follow-up workshop with a broader group. The focus groups discussed how IFOAM’s vision could be related to the Swedish context, and what challenges and opportunities actors could see for Organic 3.0 in Sweden. The discussions were unstructured in the sense that participants could bring up issues they thought were important. The outcome was 12 identified themes, all pertaining to the overall questions. These include a number of specific challenges for the Swedish organic production and market. For example, participants identified a tension between striving for larger yields and increased efficiency with the use of external inputs on the one hand, and a more agroecological multi-functional approach to organic production on the other hand. They also saw a need for new approaches for supporting a nutrient recycling from society – in general there was a positive attitude for nutrients from biogas production among participants. Further, focus group participants thought that it would be worthwhile to focus on problems common to organic and conventional agriculture, such as the quest for a fossil fuel free production. They also thought that challenges could be tackled in other ways than through the organic regulation. Rather, the regulation was seen as an obstacle for organic innovation by many participants. A major challenge participants identified was the need to increase vegetable and cereal production for human consumption in organic production. Currently, 90% of Swedish organic arable land is used for animal feed. This will have to change as diets need to develop in a more sustainable direction. Organic actors were happy about the Organic 3.0 initiative, arguing that it has brought forward relevant issues for the future development of organic production. The next step is to mobilise in order to deal with the identified challenges.