Through a myriad of projects, IFOAM develops tools for training organic farmers, producer groups, inspectors and others, supports the participation of people and organizations from developing countries on IFOAM committees and internal bodies and events, and is harmonizing international trade in organic products.
In early 2001, IFOAM developed a new four-year program - IFOAM-Growing Organic - I-GO. Its focus was on the development of Organic Agriculture in Developing Countries. The I-GO Program was part of the IFOAM Program 2008, and was funded by Hivos.
IFOAM has assumed a leadership role to help governments and other stakeholders explore and identify another means to harmonize the government and private sector systems. In 2003 IFOAM formed the International Task Force on Harmonization (ITF) in cooperation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The task force consists of representatives of more than 20 governments, six intergovernmental agencies, and key stakeholders from the private sector.
Also, IFOAM has played a key role in the Social Accountability for Sustainability Agriculture (SASA) project, helping to promote and define accountability and fair working conditions, particularly in relation to Organic Agriculture.
The number of projects managed by IFOAM is on the increase, although the I-GO Program remains IFOAM’s main program. IFOAM has also recently embarked on Organic Agriculture projects implemented at the regional level. These include for instance:
- the Africa Organic Service Center, aimed at developing, promoting and institutionalizing Organic Agriculture in Africa, and fostering the development of a supportive policy framework,
- the Tea project on the “Development, Production and Trade of Organic Tea in China and India”,
- the Pacific project on “Building Capacities on Certification of Organic Agriculture in the Pacific”, and
- the OSEA project on the “Regional Cooperation for Organic Standards and Certification Capacity in East Africa” (OSEA project).
These regional programs and projects are implemented in close cooperation with regional membership and other stakeholders, involving whenever possible local human resources and emphasizing participatory and ownership building processes.
IFOAM is also involved in capacity building projects, in particular with the development of a series of training manuals following a common didactic approach and often targeted at training for trainers. Some of these manuals have been developed under the I-GO Program, such as the set of IFOAM Training Manuals for Organic Agriculture in the tropics. Others are being developed through new partnerships, such as:
- the manual to establish GMO free regions worldwide (funded by Schweissfurth Foundation)
- the Manual for an effective enhancement of biodiversity on organic farms (funded by Software AG Stiftung).