Research agenda for organic agriculture 2008-2012

Ellen Maertens, Leen Bas, Dirk Van Gijseghem

October 2008

Upon request from the organic sector and the Sustainable Agricultural Development Division the Division for Agricultural Policy Analysis of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has established a research agenda which is to serve as a guide for project calls, project proposals and the evaluation and selection of research projects within organic agriculture. The research agenda is the result of a process of thought that was performed together with the members of NOBL (Network Organic Farming and Food Research).

Organic agriculture is based on a number of basic principles. When developing a research agenda it is important to clearly define what these basic principles mean in the context of the research. The values of organic agriculture bear similarities to the sustainability values, and parallels can be drawn with regular agricultural research. However, important differences compared to regular research are the systematic directives in research on organic agriculture, its interdisciplinary nature, the attention paid to social issues and the fact that the research is carried out in order to expand the knowledge base of the beneficiaries of that research. Research on organic agriculture departs from a holistic vision, but other research visions may also apply.

Research in the organic agriculture sector is about the deepening of organic agriculture and must be progressive and innovative. Long-term research is very valuable in this context, but short-term research is just as necessary. The areas of research are very broad and can be grouped in different ways. Here, a subdivision into 6 main themes was opted for. Due to the nature of organic agriculture, several themes are closely related and an interdisciplinary approach will often be necessary in order to deal with a theme exhaustively.

Below, the research themes are listed in order of priority. The (sub-)themes are briefly explained in the research agenda and for each (sub-)theme the different relevant research needs are mentioned.

  1. Production-related themes
    1. Primary production
      Product quality
  2. Economy and society
    1. Business-economic aspects
      Sectoral aspects
  3. Supply chain and marketing
    1. Chain management
      Market and consumer
      Sustainable technology
  4. Policy
  5. Communication
  6. Biological agriculture in its surroundings

Original version:




Maertens E., Bas L. & Van Gijseghem D. (2008)
Onderzoeksagenda voor de biologische landbouw 2008-2012
Departement Landbouw en Visserij, Brussel.



Departement Landbouw en Visserij
Ellipsgebouw (6de verdieping) - Koning Albert II-Laan 35, bus 40 - 1030 Brussel
Tel. 02 552 78 20 - Fax 02 552 78 21