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Delegates from all four corners of the earth attend a joint video conference

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Gräfelfing – This year, for the first time ever, the annual spring assembly of Naturland delegates and its World Advisory Board was replaced by a video conference, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this digital conference, which spanned three days, from 11th – 13th May, delegates from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe reported on the challenges currently facing people in their home countries.

In India, for example, the enforcement of a strict lockdown means no-one now can go to their place of work, which is making a severe impact on the many day labourers, as reported by Dr Hubby Matthew, representative for PDS Organic Spices, a Naturland Fair partner in the state of Kerala. “Fortunately many of our smallholders are self-sufficient where staple foodstuffs are concerned“, according to a reassuring statement by the Naturland delegate for India.

Because of the steep increase in the price of foodstuffs, the company is offering families additional support in the form of food parcels and protective masks, while the production and export of their organic spices has come to a halt during the shutdown.

A call to the German government to initiate due diligence legislation

“Organic agriculture and the fair trade sector, too, are now having to cope with enormous challenges in the current crisis. At the same time, this COVID-19 pandemic is making it abundantly clear why we need due diligence legislation particularly in the present circumstances, to oblige every business involved throughout the length of the global supply chain to commit to compliance with human rights and environmental standards”, said Hans Bartelme, the vice-president of Naturland and the member of the board of directors entrusted with particular responsibility for international operations.

The Naturland delegates are therefore making an unanimous appeal to the German government to implement the proposed law on due diligence without delay, before the end of this legislature period. It would be a mistake to bow to the demands made by business to remove the law from the current political agenda because of the COVID-19 crisis. “What we need right now is solidarity in the face of this crisis and the establishment of transparent, socially responsible and ecologically sustainable supply chains”, explained Hans Bartelme, the vice-president of Naturland.

With their appeal, the Naturland delegates gave their backing for the Naturland Association to endorse the demand made by an alliance of several organizations from the fields of environmentalism, unionism and development cooperation. One of these organizations ist the Forum Fairer Handel (FFH), the association for fair trade in Germany. Naturland is a member of FFH, as an organic association with its own fair trade certification programme.

Digital voting adopted to pass resolutions on standards

Other items on the agenda were deliberations on the closing of accounts for 2019 and various amendments to the standards. One of the topics was a more precise definition of the term ”bio-diversity“, in order to lend greater emphasis to the importance Naturland attaches to wildlife conservation in the wording of the standards. The statutes of the association determine that the voting on the amendments to the standards must take place in written form after the digital conference.
Hubert Heigl, the president of Naturland, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of its first digital assembly of delegates. He commented, “We have shown that Naturland is still fully operational with respect to its democratic bodies, even when such a crisis arises.”


About Naturland

Currently there are over 70,000 Naturland farmers in just under 60 countries throughout the world, all working to the organic and social standards of Naturland. In Germany alone, the association has 4,000 members. Most of Naturland’s farmers outside Germany are members of smallholder co-operatives and producer organisations. Its global presence makes Naturland unique as an organic association representing a coherent two-pronged approach combining regionalism with international activity in a globalised world.
The Naturland assembly of delegates is the highest decision-making body of the association and it usually meets twice a year. It is composed of 30 Naturland farmers from Germany, Africa, Asia, Latin America and other European countries besides Germany. The World Advisory Board also represents the interests of Naturland’s non-German members and plays a consultative role towards the Naturland’s board of directors in questions pertaining to the association’s global reach and international development.