The annual meeting of bioverita took place on 23 April 2021. This time the host was apple grower Niklaus Bolliger, who has been a bioverita member of the Poma Culta association (a non-profit association for the promotion of research in the field of biodynamic fruit growing) for several years.
We were able to hold the conference in a corona-compliant manner in a large hall on his farm in Hessigkofen, Switzerland and out in the open air. Due to the cold spring, the apple blossom was still a long time coming. Nevertheless, the participants who had traveled were rewarded with the best weather.
Apple Cultivation in Hessigkofen
As an introduction, Bolliger led the participants through his apple nursery. He explained the basics of his breeding activities as well as the goals of his work: delicious apple varieties that are suitable for storage, deliver reliable yields and
are adapted to the conditions in organic farming, i.e. grow without the use of pesticides. Fortunately, this year, after around 20 years of preparatory work, a cultivation and marketing project of the first variety bred by him is set to launch.
Plant Breeding 2040
Afterwards, Prof. Dr. Knut Schmidtke, Director of the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture (FiBL), gave a lecture via video link on the topic of “Outlook 2040: Plant breeding, seed and plant material supply for organic farming”. He described that the increase in the organic cultivation area sought by the EU from currently 10% to 25% by the year 2030 is very ambitious, also with regard to the availability of varieties from organic breeding. In order to achieve the goal, there must be more organic breeding undertakings in the future.
So far, according to the studies by Monika Messmer (FiBL), the proportion of these varieties is still below 10% in organic farming. However organic consumers expect that organic farming uses varieties from organic breeding. Communication with regard to the identity of organic food to consumers as well as integrity in dealing with plants in organic breeding and in organic agriculture as a whole are fundamental for further development.
At the beginning of the statutory part of the meeting, the association’s president Amadeus Zschunke read out the annual report on the activities in 2020. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary, bioverita employee Justine Lipke then conducted an interview with the association’s founders Amadeus
and Markus Johann in order to give those present an overview of the founding and development of the association. Afterwards, Managing Director Markus Johann presented the income and expenses as part of the final report for 2020 and then gave an overview of the budget for the current year.
New Board Member
Christian Butscher, who has been on the board of bioverita almost since the association was founded, had announced in the run-up to the meeting that he would be resigning from his position, as he had resigned from the board of Bio Suisse. Claudio Gregori is to take his place to represent the association on the board of bioverita.
Gregori has been a board member at Bio Suisse since 2014 and is the new head of the quality department. After a brief introduction of himself, Claudio Gregori was elected as a new member of the board. Amadeus Zschunke was unanimously confirmed as president.
bioverita’s Vision and Mission
Amadeus Zschunke then gave information about the vision, mission and objectives of bioverita, which had been worked out in detail in the previous months. The vision and mission result in the guidelines for all activities of the association and are available on the bioverita Website (in German). Markus Johann continued with an outlook on the activities in bioverita’s anniversary year.
Among other things, a trip to Italy for market partners is planned for July 2021. This, however, will depend on the corona regulations at the time. Furthermore, a breeding conference is to take place in Rheinau on November 12th. If possible, a physical presence is planned for Biofach 2022.
An Inspiring Meeting
We hope that the successfully held annual meeting was a first positive step in this direction, even if it took place under restricted conditions.
The meeting, as well as the apple tasting that followed, was a reminder of how inspiring these types of gatherings are for everyone involved. Our thanks go to the Bolliger family and all participants.
Photo credits: 1-4, 7: bioverita, 5: Bio Grischun, 6: pixabay