The winners of the 2017 Organic Farming Innovation Awards (OFIA) were announced on 10 November 2017 at an awards ceremony during the Organic World Congress in New Delhi, India announced IFOAM Organics International in a release.

Winner of the OFIA Grand Prize

Mr. Mike Hands, the Founder, and Director of the Inga Foundation was the recipient of The OFIA Grand Prize (10,000 US$) for innovations in applications of organic farming.

Millions of families in the tropics slash and burn as a subsistence farming method. Families cut down and burn a patch of forest to create an area of fertile soil on which they can grow their food. However, the bare ground is stripped of nutrients rapidly, so although slash and burn give a good crop for the first year, by the third year crops often fail entirely. Families who depend on slash and burn keep clearing new areas of rainforest every few years.

The Inga Foundation helps to spread the use of alley cropping using Inga trees. Inga Alley Cropping is capable of maintaining soil fertility and good harvests year after year. This practice breaks the cycle of slash and burn, allowing families to gain long-term food security on one piece of land. Also, larger branches from the Inga trees can be used for firewood, thus tackling another critical aspect of deforestation.

An experienced tropical ecologist and scientific researcher, Mike divides his time between his farm in Cornwall, UK, and the Inga Foundation’s main project, the Land for Life Project in Honduras.

Winner of the OFIA Science Prize

The OFIA Science Prize (5000 US$) was awarded to Dr. Hiroshi Uchino from the Tohoku Agricultural Research Center, for his work on the use of cover crops for weed suppression. The Science Prize is the prize for scientists who discover promising applications for organic farming, processing, and marketing.

Weed damage is one of the most severe causes of significant crop yield loss in organic farming. The use of cover crops is one method used to prevent weed damage, but sometimes cover crops damage crop growth as well as weed growth. 

Dr. Uchino developed a simple method to measure the ‘Vegetation Cover Ratio’ (the percentage of area covered by vegetation to unit soil surface area) of each crop species to evaluate the relationship between growth traits of cover crops and weed suppression. 

His findings will help organic farmers to better use cover crops for weed suppression based on scientific knowledge not only in Japan but also in other countries. 


About the Organic Farming Innovation Awards?

The Organic Farming Innovation Award is the prize of the organic movement to highlight organic innovations by scientists, extension agents, and practitioners. OFIA is an initiative of the South Korean government in remembrance of the Organic World Congress (OWC) 2011 held in its Gyeonggi Province. The OFIA committee gives a signal for the research and extension community worldwide and emphasizes the need for innovation for the development of organic agriculture worldwide.

Every three years at the OWC, IFOAM – Organics International and the Rural Development Association (RDA) award great organic innovations and their discoverers to boost their uptake and to motivate other stakeholders to push change forward for the benefit of organic farming.

The next OFIA will be held in 2020. More information under www.ifoam.bio