Evidence-based policy development is promoted by organic research, according to studies in ten countries (in Africa, America and Europe). A seven country study by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (unctad, 2008) on how governments can assist organic sectors, gave guidelines about regulation, special support for small scale farmers and under-pinning the emergence of a market for organic produce without distorting this market. Eight years later, unctad published a further report on financing Organic Agriculture (OA) in Africa, which concluded that lack of finance hinders the development of OA in Africa. These reports emphasise the need for OA research; research into broccoli seed-breeding had a positive impact on the perceptions of commercial seed producers, and may help to improve regulatory frameworks. Three long-term research projects are then analysed. The Swiss research trials showed many benefits of organic farming, but also limitations; they cite many researchers around the world who show the benefits of OA, and argue for the establishment of a global platform for organic farming research, innovation and technology transfer. Longterm research has had a major impact on production, processing, marketing and consumption of organic produce world-wide, as shown by Danish research through four research programmes at Aarhus University (which contributed to Danish sales of organic produce increasing from €67 million in 1996 to €821 million in 2010), and this helped Danish farmers to expand production and understand the needs of the market. In the United States, the Rodale Institute carried out long-term research trials to show that OA can be economically competitive, while benefiting the environment and the health of consumers. All three studies had close links with agricultural policy, but the Danish and Swiss studies were more sympathetically received and resulted directly in positive changes to agricultural policies in those countries.
Keywords: Organic agriculture, policy, case studies, research, contribution.
Jel Code: Q15, Q18