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EARTH SUMMIT+5
Special Session of the General Assembly to Review and Appraise
the Implementation of Agenda 21

New York, 23-27 June 1997

SUCCESS STORIES FROM EASTERN EUROPE

Extension of Sustainable and Organic Farming

Location Russian Federation
Responsible organization Center for Citizen Initiatives - USA (formerly the Center for US-USSR Initiatives)
Description The current crisis in Russian agriculture offers an excellent opportunity for innovative farmers to break away from traditional, chemical-intensive Soviet farming systems and adopt environmentally-sound farming techniques.

In 1993, the CCI (Center for Citizen Initiatives) initiated a comprehensive project in cooperation with the All-Russian Agricultural College (ARAC), to disseminate these techniques to farmers in Sergiev Posad, Russia. The project took into account the importance of low-input techniques and organic farming systems in a country where chemical fertilizers and pesticides have become unavailable or prohibitively expensive.

US agriculture instructors were sent to teach sustainable agriculture methods at the All-Russian Agricultural College. This College developed a curriculum in sustainable development and distributed it over 300 agricultural colleges in Russia. CCI provided hundreds of textbooks, extension pamphlets, and other materials, which are currently being translated into Russian. A four year degree programme on sustainable agriculture has been introduced at the ARAC.

Issues addressed Restoration of polluted water-bodies (Black, Caspian and Aral Seas); reducing harmful agricultural runoff, reducing eutrophication and pollution in areas such as the Baltic Sea and Lake Baikal; increasing food security and reducing transportation and storage costs at the local and national levels
Objectives To train Russian agricultural specialists and to enable sharing of knowledge with researchers and scientists from other countries on developing profitable organic farming and innovative marketing techniques for organically grown products
Results achieved
  • establishment of the "Farming Development Service" as a model extension service for Russia
  • development of a replicable model for sustainable agriculture training
  • assisted farmers in marketing their 1994 - 1995 crops through fairs (with the cooperation of regional government)
In the next phase, the programme aims to create enterprises to support sustainable agricultural production and marketing.
Lessons learned Participation of and collaboration with local farmers increase project effectiveness. Further national legislation that clarifies land ownership issues will be useful. National and international subsidies that promote use of agricultural chemicals need to be reduced to support this and other similar projects.
Financing Private sector contribution: donor companies W. Atlee Burpee & Co. and the Asgrow Seed Company have shipped 38 tons of surplus vegetable seed to Russian citizens to help avoid food shortages.

Other funders: Tri-Valley Growers, United States Agency for International Development Farmer-to-Farmer programme and a Private American Foundation.

Contact William Easton
Coordinator, Agricultural Initiative, CCI
3268 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94115
United States

Telephone: +1 415/346 1875
Fax: + 1 415/346 3731
E-mail: cciusa@igc.apc.org

Natalya Scribunova
Moscow Ag Initiative Director
International Bank of Ideas
19 Ul. Borisa Galushkina, korp.1
Moscow 129301
Russian Federation

Telephone: + 7 95/283 1448
Fax: +7 95/286 3430
E-mail: ibimosc@glas.apc.org

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Copyright United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org
1 November 1997