This is Agriculture and Food category under Courses.

Objective and Target Participants

The course aims at enhancing the competitiveness of the agriculture and food sectors in member countries as certification can increase access of organics to consumers and global premium markets.

This course is designed for those who are:

·         Interested in learning the basic concepts and principles of organic inspection and certification.

·         Working in government, agricultural farms, agribusiness enterprises, agricultural extension services, academic organizations, and other individuals with particular interest in promoting organic agriculture, producing certified organic food and nonfood products.

·         Keen in organic inspection and certification and have special interest in the subject.


The demand for organic food products is expected to continue growing fast in major global markets like the USA, EU, and expanding Asian urban centers. According to a Zion Market Research report, the global organic food and beverage market was valued at approximately USD125 billion in 2017 and is expected to generate revenue of around USD323 billion by the end of 2024, increasing at a compound annual growth rate of more than 10% between 2017 and 2024. This trend will result in greater opportunities for Asian producers.

Certification can help protect both consumers and genuine organic producers alike from false claims and misleading labeling of products. Organic certification is undertaken based on standards or established regulatory and audit systems for producers, handlers, processors, retailers, wholesalers, and exporters. Today’s market demands independent third-party certification for sales transactions, which is required by the regulations of many governments for any kind of an “organic” claim on a product label.

This course is being organized to enhance the basic concepts and principles of organic certification and inspection and acquaint participants with the process of organic certification and inspection.

Scope and Course Content

 This course consists of 07 modules as listed below

 Module 1. Introduction to Organic Agriculture

1.1  Key Concepts in Organic Agriculture

–        What does ‘organic agriculture’ mean?

–        Principles of organic agriculture

–        Key drivers of organic farming

–        Scope of organic production

–        Organic Farming and the Sustainable Development Goals

–        Benefits and disadvantages of organic Farming

–        Dos’ and Don’ts in organic farming

1.2       Organic Value Proposition

–        What are the meanings of value proposition?

–        Where to start for value proposition development

–        Steps in development of a value proposition

–        Application of value proposition concept in organic agribusiness

1.3       Salient Facts about Global Organic Agriculture

1.4       Challenges in Organic Farming and Measure to Resolve Them

1.5       Key Takeaways

Module 2. Organic Certification: Basis Concepts

2.1       Basics Concepts in Organic Certification

–        What is organic certification?

–        Why organic certification?

–        What can be certified?

–        Is organic certification for the entire organic chain?

2.2       Principles for a Certification System

2.3       Steps to Get Organic Certification

2.4       Organic Certification Systems – A Brief Introduction

2.5       Challenges in Organic Certification

2.6       Important Considerations in Organic Certification

2.7       Key Takeaways

 Module 3. Organic Certification Systems

3.1       Origin of Modern Organic Certification

3.2       Organic Guarantee System

3.3       Organic Certification Systems

–        Third-Party Certification

–        Participatory Guarantee Systems

3.4       Ten Renowned Organic Certificates Worldwide

3.5       Key Takeaways

Quiz 1

Module 4. Organic Standards, Legislation, and Labels

4.1       Why Organic Standards and Regulations?

4.2       Meanings of Organic Standards and Regulations

4.3       Organic Regulation and Policy Toolkits

4.4       Classification of Organic Standards

4.5       Organic Labels

4.6       Key Takeaways

Module 5. Considerations before Certification

5.1       Why consider certification?

5.2       Marketing opportunities with organic certification

5.3       Conversion Period

5.4       Communicating with certifiers

5.5       Roles of certifiers and consultants, and criterial for their selection

5.6       The application

5.7       Examples of types of records

5.8       Inspection: preparation and what to expect

5.9       How to renew organic certification

5.10     Split/parallel operations

5.11     Organic Control Points (OCP)

5.12     Key Takeaways

Quiz 2

Module 6. Organic Inspection

6.1  Basis Concepts in organic inspection

6.1.1        What is organic inspection?

6.1.2        Why organic inspection?

6.1.3        How to control the cost of organic inspection?

6.2       Inspection preparation

6.2.1 By Producers/Handlers

–        Before the inspection

–        During the inspection

–        After the inspection

6.2.2 By Inspectors

–        Before the inspection

–        During the inspection

–        After the inspection

6.3       Review of the relevant documents and information

6.4       Standard inspection program for organic crop production

6.5       Organic inspection checklists

6.6       Key Takeaways

Module 7. Useful Facts about Organic Certification

7.1       Facts about organic certification

7.2       Four categories of organic products

7.3       Products that qualify for organic certification

7.4       Top organic certificates worldwide

7.5       Success factors in transitioning to organic

7.6       Zero-cost organic certification system – a new perspective

7.7       Key Takeaways

Quiz 3
Final Examination

FDS are the process by which consumers are supplied with food products throughout agrifood supply chains. Generally, food is produced in agricultural and rural areas and transported to cities to meet urban consumers’ dietary requirements. The rise of the middle-income class in cities and their enhanced consumption power have led to improved logistics and distribution systems, especially in developing countries where rapid urban expansion is ongoing.

The composition of distribution systems generally refers to three elements: transportation; warehousing; and retail facilities. Food is supplied to urban areas through transportation chains involving trucks and buses and then stored in warehouses for distribution. The distributed food is supplied to retail markets and facilities to reach end consumers. However, the systems are varied, complicated processes that may result in storage in multiple warehouses and transport to different distribution centers within a city.

Therefore successful FDS may take various forms based on economic and social considerations. Depending on economic factors such as level of development, urban planning, and poverty, the operational dynamics and behavior patterns of players in the supply chains require different approaches. Distribution channels are affected by social factors such as the producers and agents (gender, ethnic group, etc.). The types of agents also tend to evolve from middlemen to official management agencies based on the national development stage to enhance transparency and efficiency. Growing urban traffic congestion affects transportation methods within cities. Inadequate retail markets, limited food retail outlets, and unhealthy conditions are challenges in modernizing FDS. To establish successful FDS, integrated strategies are required in line with changes in the external factors, infrastructure, facilities, and services to match city growth and rising urban food demand. Macro-level policies on related factors such as agriculture and regional and urban development must also be considered.

This e-learning course will study the process and characteristics of FDS. The forms and types of agencies/organizations as active players in the supply systems will be also reviewed.

This course aims to show how agroforestry can be used to increase the productivity of degraded land. The specific objectives are to:
• Enrich participants’ knowledge of agroforestry.
• Demonstrate how agroforestry can increase land productivity at a watershed level.
• Build the capacity of practitioners to employ methods of agroforestry in their land management practices.
Target Participants
Government officers, agricultural producers, agribusiness entrepreneurs, agricultural extension workers, academics, and other individuals with particular interest in adopting tree-dominant agriculture, watershed or land rehabilitation, diversifying farming portfolios, or promoting agroforestry.
Land degradation results in the reduced capacity of ecosystems to provide diverse social and environmental goods and services. This includes the loss of habitat for biodiversity, reduced soil and watershed productivity, altered microclimates, and diminished livelihood potential including food, nutritional, and financial insecurity. One way to rehabilitate land and sustain production is through agroforestry. Agroforestry is the collective term for land-use systems and technologies in which woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms and bamboo, etc.) are used deliberately on the same land-management units as agricultural crops with animals in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. Agroforestry enhances agricultural productivity, among other economic, social, and environmental benefits.

This Course will describe land degradation and its consequences. Agroforestry will be offered as a solution to reverse land degradation. The ecosystem functions (goods and services) from agroforestry practices will be presented and the challenges in establishing agroforests described. A successful case study of land rehabilitation in a degraded watershed in Sri Lanka using a combination of diverse agroforestry practices and regenerative agriculture will provide an example for the innovative use of agroforestry.
Scope and Methodology
The course structure and content are as follows:
Module 1: Land degradation
1.1 Land degradation
1.2 Increasing human consumption
1.3 Forest destruction
1.4 Climate change
1.5 Food and nutrition insecurity
1.6 Livelihood instability and poverty
1.7 Land Degradation neutral
1.8 Key messages

Module 2: History, definition and criteria used to classify agroforestry practices
2.1 History of agroforestry
2.2 Agriculture, agroforests and forests
2.3 Definition
2.4 Classifying agroforestry practices
2.5 Key messages

Module 3: Agroforestry practices and choosing the right model
3.1 Agroforestry systems
3.2 Classification of agroforestry practices
3.3 Key messages

Quiz 1 (for self-assessment based on questions from Modules 1–3)

Module 4: Agroforestry practices, regulating and supporting ecosystem functions
4.1 Supporting and regulating ecosystem functions
4.2 Soil fertility
4.3 Biodiversity conservation
4.4 Water quality
4.5 Air quality
4.6 Carbon sequestration
4.7 Key messages

Module 5: Agroforestry practices and provisioning ecosystem functions with a focus on forest gardens (Part 1)
5.1 Forest gardens
5.2 Structure, composition and landscape design
5.3 Floristic diversity
5.4 Livestock
5.5 Provisioning functions (food, fuelwood, medicine, timber, fodder)
5.6 Key messages

Module 6: Agroforestry practices, provisioning (Part 2), and cultural ecosystem functions in forest gardens and other agroforestry practices
6.1 Provisioning ecosystem functions (income, expenditure and profitability)
6.2 Cultural ecosystem functions
6.3 Key messages

Quiz 2 (for self-assessment based on questions from Modules 4–6)

Module 7. Agroforestry adoption and increasing its effectiveness
7.1. Land and climatic characteristics
7.2 Interactions between components
7.3 Access to resources (land, seed, labour, financial capital and technical knowledge)
7.4 Crop destruction (tree felling, animal pests, natural calamities)
7.5 Land tenure
7.6 Government policy
7.7 Key messages

Module 8, Applying innovative agroforestry practices for watershed rehabilitation: A Case Study in the rehabilitation of a degraded watershed in Sri Lanka
8.1 WHY: Background
8.2 WHERE: Description of the watershed
8.3 WHAT: The problem
8.4 HOW: Methods that will be used to rehabilitate degraded land
8.5 WHO: The stakeholder, mobiliser and funder
8.6 EXPECTED OUTCOMES: Increasing: watershed productivity (water quantity and quality), soil fertility, agricultural productivity, livelihood sustainability, and forest cover.
8.7 PRELIMINARY WORK: Identify needs of stakeholders, Mapping (land use, topography, and hydrology) and inventory (flora and fauna)

Module 9, WHAT is needed to implement watershed rehabilitation
9.1 Participatory watershed rehabilitation (assessing resources in hand, crop selection, database and other considerations and nursery establishment)
9.2 Landscape design and implementation
9.3 Management plan
9.4 Monitoring and evaluation
9.5 Evaluation
9.6 Challenges and resolutions
9.7 Conclusions

Quiz 3 (for self-assessment based on questions from Modules 7–9)

Final examination

A minimum score of 70% on the final examination is required to qualify for the APO e-certificate.


Self-learning e-modules, additional study materials for participants, intermittent quizzes for self-assessment, assignments, and a final examination to qualify for the APO e-certificate.

Transformation is necessary to improve agricultural productivity significantly. The world has experienced several previous agricultural transformations. Around 3000 BC, the introduction of irrigation expanded agricultural boundaries. Crop rotation systems developed in the 18th century contributed to higher production levels. The 1940s to 1960s saw the development of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, and the 1960s to 1980s saw the use of agricultural machinery become widespread, both of which raised productivity. Currently, smart technologies such as ICT and the Internet of Things (IoT) are transforming agriculture and improving its productivity levels.


Smart technology in agriculture involves automation and robots, sensor-based environmental control systems, remote sensing for the pinpoint distribution of inputs via drones, the use of power assist suits by elderly farmers and others with physical constraints, and crop damage prediction by artificial intelligence. The use of these tools requires knowledge and training as well as equipment. This e-learning course will introduce the necessary information to utilize smart agricultural technologies effectively.


At the same time, if farmers cannot make a profit, they cannot continue to operate. Smart agriculture is generally more costly than traditional models of production. Higher-quality farm produce therefore must be sold at higher prices, which requires acceptance by consumers. Before introducing smart technology, farmers should conduct cost–benefit analyses to ensure sustainability.


The APO Agricultural Transformation Program is aimed at enhancing food security and meeting future food needs in the Asia-Pacific region through increased productivity, quality, and innovation in agricultural and food systems leading to improved rural livelihoods. In January 2019, APO prepared the Agricultural Transformation Framework as an initiative to propel growth through a holistic approach to building the capacity of member countries to adopt modern technologies and best practices for farm-level transformation.


This course is being organized to train a critical mass of individuals in APO member countries in acquiring with the practical guidance on smart transformation of agriculture, and to promote it in member countries. It will introduce concept of Agricultural Transformation, smart agriculture, precondition to introduce smart agriculture, and smart agriculture’s cost and income.

The Asian Productivity Organization developed this course with the support of Dr. Sakae Shibusawa, Professor emeritus, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Japan.

Course Instruction

-There are 8 modules in this course. Please start with Module 1 and complete each module in order.

-The recommended timeline to complete each module is:

Days 1-2: Module 1

Days 3-5: Module 2+Quiz 1

Days 6-7: Module 3

Days 8-10: Module 4+Quiz 2

Days 11-12: Module 5

Days 13-14: Module 6

Days 15-16: Module 7

Days 17-19: Module 8+Quiz 3

Day 20: Final Examination

-To confirm your understandings, 3 quizzes are provided. Please answer the questions and check your score for self-evaluation. Please note that the quiz scores have no connection with the final exam results.

-It is recommended that you proceed to the next module only after satisfactory completion of the preceding module.

-After completing all modules, each participant should take the final exam. Remember that you are only allowed to take the final exam once. Please ensure that you have thoroughly understood all modules before taking the final exam.

-After completion of the course the APO will provide e-certificates to successful participants from APO member countries who pass the final exam (minimum passing score is 70%).

Course Objectives

  1. To offer participants practical guidance on the smart transformation of agriculture;


  1. To promote the smart transformation of agriculture in member countries; and


  1. To promote agriculture and food production while contributing to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 1 (ending poverty in all its forms everywhere) and SDG 2 (ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture).


Important Notes:

1) Participants who register to take this course and pass the final examination with a score of 70% or higher will be eligible to receive the APO certificate. Please note that the final examination can be taken only once. Therefore, you decide when you choose to take the examination. Please note that the self-assessment quizzes are for your own evaluation and have no connection with the final examination results.

2) Participants who perform well in this course and receive the APO certificate will be given preference, on a merit basis, for selection to attend the follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO project, provided their nominations are received through the concerned NPOs and slots are available.

3) Notes 1 and 2 are applicable only to participants from APO member countries. Participants from nonmember countries are welcome to take the course for self-improvement, though they will neither get APO certificate nor an opportunity to attend the follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO projects.


The course on Smart Transformation of Agriculture goes off-line at:

Time: 10:00 am (UTC+09:00, Tokyo)

Date: 10 May 2021

Please finish the course before then.

Thank you.