(Clockwise from top-left) Prof. Dr. Christoph Studer, Paul van den Berge, Dr. Gurbir S. Bhullar, and Dr. Jacques G. Fuchs
One of the pioneers in agriculture fertiliser and a leading diversified business group, A. Baur & Co. Ltd., also known as Baurs, will be bringing down a team of renowned experts from Switzerland to study the country’s agriculture ecosystem with the purpose of providing scientific and practical solutions to converse into an organic approach.
Scheduled to arrive on 1 August, the 10-day visit will include meetings and diverse interactions with all key stakeholders, including visits to sites and facilities that influence organic agriculture. The expert team will also conduct first-hand training in composting and organic farming, the need of the hour.
Soon after Sri Lanka’s decision to ban chemical fertilisers and pesticides, Baurs established dialogue with some of the leading agriculture institutions in the world to gather insights and expertise on best practices and emerging technologies to successfully embrace this challenge.
Baurs teamed up with Switzerland-based Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) and School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL) of Bern University of Applied Sciences, both considered as world leaders in the research and development of organic agriculture. FiBL and HAFL will work together with other local and international organisations with domain knowledge in the subject matter.
Home to some of the leading institutes for organic agriculture, Switzerland has the sixth highest penetration of organic farming in the world, with 16.5% of agriculture land being organic farmland. It also has the second highest per capita consumption of organic food and ranks as the seventh largest organic market globally.
The expert team will bring the best of both worlds. They will not just bring the best academic experience to Sri Lanka but also their significant experience in implementing practical projects across the world with much of it focused on developing economies. The expert team will comprise of four very senior members from both FiBL and HAFL.
Prof. Dr. Christoph Studer is Professor of Natural Resources Management at HAFL and has worked with international agricultural research centres. Dr. Studer is engaged in various R&D projects and consultancy services. Dr. Gurbir S. Bhullar is a Senior Scientist in Tropical Agroecosystems at HAFL, previously leading the thematic area of ‘Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics’ at FiBL for eight years. Dr. Bhullar comes from a farming family with a wealth of experience in farming systems research in Asia and Africa.
Dr. Jacques G. Fuchs is a senior scientist in plant pathology and soil quality at FiBL and a board member of Swiss Society for Phytiatry. Dr. Fuchs is also the founder of Biophyt AG, a company specialised in the biological quality of compost, compost utilisation and development of compost-based products. Paul van den Berge joined FiBL after having managed his own organic farm and is an expert in various fields to include organic horticultural crops, market development, and standard setting. Paul is a member of the Standards Committee of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
Following the comprehensive and cohesive study, the expert team will later develop an integrated plan backed by scientific and professional evidence and expertise to support Sri Lanka’s efforts in embracing organic agriculture.