Our Mission: To address issues and concerns relevant to organic inspectors, to provide quality inspector training, and
to promote consistency and integrity in the organic certification process.


2016 AGM Heads to Jeju Island, Republic of Korea

Mark your calendar - April 9, 2016

Why Jeju Island - an island off the southern tip of Korea? Jeju is a very special place and a cultural treasure to Koreans. Because of the relative isolation of the island, the people of Jeju developed a culture and language that are distinct from those of mainland Korea, including a matriarchal society. Jeju is home to thousands of local legends. Perhaps the most distinct cultural artifact is the ubiquitous dol hareubang ("stone grandfather") carved from a block of basalt. The Jeju economy has traditionally been supported by primary industry, agriculture and fishing, but tourism has taken a more and more important role as the island receives ten million visitors per year. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeju_Province]

IOIA's first AGM in Asia was unanimously endorsed by the membership, after Director Isidor Yu presented a proposal on behalf of the BOD at the AGM. Isidor Yu proposed Jeju Island, a popular destination in Asia with a strong environmental ethic. For the past year, Isidor, with the encouragement of the BOD worked to bring together a proposal and secure local support. His presentation at Chico was the culmination of a year of hard work on behalf of IOIA.

Isidor approached the Jeju Special Self-Governing Provincial Council and asked for funding support. Jeju is one of 9 Korean provinces. Then he took the idea to the Asia Committee (now the Asia Pacific Committee) and easily won their support. Recognizing the added cost for international travel, the Board voted to keep BOD travel costs reasonable by paying one-third of their own airfare.

Tentative schedule includes basic organic inspection courses (English and Korean) running concurrently on April 4-8, advanced training April 7-8, AGM and field trip options on April 9-10, and Train the Trainer on April 11-12 geared to bolster the number of IOIA trainers in Asia. Possible field trips options: mandarins, vegetables, olives, aquaculture, tea, aloe, dairy, and organic horse. First-time travelers to Korea can look forward to a cuisine that is rated one of the healthiest in the world, including the local fermented kimchi and miso. Jeju Island will offer plentiful options including grains, seaweed, seafood, and mushrooms.

Jeju is also a natural history treasure including Mount Hallasan park (dormant volcano) at the center of the island and many waterfalls. Hiking the lava tubes and caving are popular activities for visitors.

In addition to its international significance in natural heritage, Jeju has special significance for organic and for IOIA. Jeju Island was the site of the first IOIA course in Korea - a basic crop inspection training taught by Lisa Pierce and Mutsumi Sakuyoshi in Jeju 2006. Shortly afterwards, Isidor Yu completed his mentorship as an IOIA trainer. Since 2006, 18 courses have been held including basic crop, processing, and livestock as well as two advanced courses. A total of 321 people have been trained. The Korea Organic Inspectors Association was founded in 2008, and secured nonprofit status partly due to the support of IOIA while visiting the Korean national offices of MIFAFF and NAQS in 2010. IOIA's Executive Director, Margaret Scoles, then chair Bob Durst, and trainer Mutsumi Sakuyoshi (now chair of the Asia Committee) traveled to Korea and Japan and were all involved in the advanced training. In 2011, IOIA participated in all of the IFOAM events when IFOAM's General Assembly was held in Korea. IOIA is recognized as an official training body. National Agricultural Product Quality Management Service (NAQS) accredited IOIA as a training body for organic agriculture inspectors in 2008. Inspectors are required to pass both a test and an exam by an accredited training body, like IOIA. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Fishery (MIFAFF) accredited IOIA as a training body for organic processing inspectors. IOIA is the only accredited training body which located out of Korea. In short, IOIA has strong ties with the Republic of Korea. 

Five percent of IOIA inspector members are in Asia, almost as many as Latin America. IOIA has five inspector members in Korea - the most of any country in Asia. Jeju is also an attractive and convenient location for IOIA members in Japan, with the next highest number of IOIA members. From many locations in Asia, direct flights are available into Korea.

For the US and Canadian members traveling to Korea, no travel visa is currently required. Passports are required, and IOIA recommends checking on travel requirements well in advance. For most international travelers, it will be necessary to travel through the main international airport (Incheon) outside of Seoul before continuing on a smaller regional airline to Jeju. Accommodations and food will be available in a wide range of budgets.

Goals of the event include: