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Establishment of an Information Hub of Organic Agriculture - OF0399

The 2011 Natural England review of information support to organic producers following the closure of the Organic Conversion Information Scheme proposed the establishment of an Information Hub to collate relevant information, make it readily accessible on a website and potentially provide access to further dissemination activities including an advisory helpline and training.. This was not intended to replace the current information and advisory services provided by the various organisations working in the field, but to improve access to them and other sources of information. The establishment of an Information Hub should address the shortcomings of the existing information and advisory services. In particular it should establish a structure and mechanism for collating and making best use of all existing information by improving access and dissemination both from and between organic and conventional farming, accessible to a wide range of users and at minimal cost to them. It should support the delivery of information by those existing organic and non-organic service organisations. By improving access to this information there is potential to make better use of previously funded research and facilitate exchange of information between practitioners, resulting in improved farming practices, environmental and public good delivery and farm financial viability. The potential for an Information Hub has been demonstrated elsewhere, in particular by the German Information Portal which services all the information and analysis needs of organic producers, processors and retailers, researchers, policy, schools and the general public.
In the NE review, three options were proposed all of which entailed establishing a web based Information Hub plus varying degrees of involvement and funding by other organizations and varying levels of activity. This proposal focuses only on the initiation of the web-based information hub, including the construction of a virtual network of information sites, sign-posting and providing links to organic and agro-ecological information for a range of users including organic and conventional farmers, advisers, researchers, policy makers, NGOs, marketing organisations colleges, press and consumers, and providing a “first stop shop” for producers interested in conversion. It will involve any analysis of research or training provision. The service would involve establishing a network of organisations which would collaborate in disseminating the information available through the Hub.

1. Hold a meeting with organic information providers to discuss and agree logisitics of linking on-line information resources
2. Establish a stand alone website with a unique URL, linked to the ORC website and networked with other information sources, to including both controlled content as well as a wiki section to enable interactive information provision by users
3. Review options for continuing the development of the hub on a sustainable (potentially self-funded) basis.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2014

To: 2014

Cost: £19,982
Contractor / Funded Organisations
The Progressive Farming Trust Ltd t/a The Organic Research Centre
Organic Farming