25 years of Biovision in photos

By

Lothar J. Lechner Bazzanella

Photographs by Peter Lüthi, Christian Bobst, Verena Albertin, Giorgio Hösli, Patrick Rohr, Andreas Bodmer and Simon von Gunten.

In 2023, Biovision is celebrating its 25th birthday. Our years of dedicated work have had a lasting impact and left their mark. To mark the occasion, we invite you to accompany us through a compilation of photos and videos that we pulled from our archives.

1998 – The foundation of Biovision

World Food Prize winner and entomologist Hans Rudolf Herren founds Biovision together with Andi Schriber, Mathis Zimmermann and Jürg Weber. Their goal: to improve the living conditions of people in Africa and to preserve nature as the basis of all life in a sustainable way.

From left to right: Co-founder and later CEO of Biovision Andi Schriber, the first “Eco Trainers” in Kenya N’Donga Hezika and Matilda Auma Ouma, and Biovision President Hans Rudolf Herren, 2001
Photograph from the very first Biovision newsletter, Kenya 2002.

2001 – The beginnings

The first projects start in Kenya. Biovision hires so-called “Eco Trainers” who impart their knowledge of ecological farming methods, such as Push–Pull. You can still read about it in the Biovision newsletter from 2002.

An “Eco Trainer” explains different plants in Kenya, 2002.

Video portrait of Beryl Atieno Munika from Kenya, who found new self-confidence thanks to Push–Pull

Andreas Schriber, managing director at the time, on a project visit to western Kenya .

2005 – The Organic Farmer is published

Dissemination of knowledge has been one of Biovision’s approaches from the very beginning. Accordingly, a magazine was created for farmers and published for the first time in 2005. Peter Baumgartner, former editor and Africa correspondent of the Zurich newspaper Tages-Anzeiger launched the Biovision project The Organic Farmer in Kenya after his retirement. You can still read the story about it in our newsletter from 2005 here (in German). Since then, the project has evolved and gone digital.

Farmers reading The Organic Farmer, Kenya 2008.
Herbalism at the Forest School Mpigi in Uganda, 2010.
A boy enjoys a mango, 2014.

2006 – The first birthday photo

Biovision celebrates its eighth birthday. All staff members gather for a team photo together. There were only seven Biovision staff members at that time.

2007 – Biovision’s Infonet goes online

Another milestone in the dissemination of knowledge is the launch of the internet platform infonet-biovision.org. The natural scientist Monique Hunziker, now Biovision’s longest-serving member, played a major role. You can read the story here (in German).

“The Organic Farmer" goes digital. Photograph taken in Kenya, in 2009.
A world champion supports Biovision: Simone Niggli-Luder on a project visit.

Simone Niggli-Luder, fourteen-time orienteering world champion and biologist, was a Biovision ambassador until 2018. She was committed to nature-based and social development and to a world without hunger: “I hope that with my fame and popularity I can draw attention to the Biovision Foundation and its help for self-help in Africa”, she explained in 2007 as the step for her commitment as Biovision ambassador.

Emily Sikuku shows how she produces silk. Together with 120 other members of the Kabondo Silkgroup in western Kenya, she has secured a new source of income through silk production. Kenya, 2008.

2008 – The first radio broadcasts

The Organic Farmer is broadcast on the radio for the first time. The programme reaches millions of listeners from the start, as can still be read here (in German) in the Biovision newsletter from 2008.

Mathew Macdonald in his radio studio in Kenya, 2021. Over 2 million listeners tune in every day.
A farmer listens to tips for agroecological farming. Uganda, 2010.
Farmers at work in Tolay, Ethiopia, 2015.

2009 – New projects develop

In Tanzania, the project “Bustani ya Tushikamane” is launched, from which the successful partner organization Sustainable Agriculture Tanzania (SAT) later emerges. A short version of the founding story, which still impresses today, was published on page 7 of Newsletter 26 (in German). Co-founder Alexander Wostry tells of its beginnings and how Biovision empowered SAT to achieve a breakthrough.

Biovision project visit to Morogoro, Tanzania, 2009.

2010 – Biovision receives the One World Award

Hans Rudolf Herren of Biovision and the Kenyan organic farmer Rachel Agola are granted the One World Award. The prize is awarded to individuals, projects, organizations or companies that are committed to sustainable development, ecological agriculture, social justice and the protection of the environment.

Rachel Agola visits Switzerland and attends the Biovision Symposium in 2010.
Mango farmer Samuel Mugambi is visibly excited. Kenya, 2014.

2011 – CLEVER is born

A more sustainable world also requires participation in Switzerland. Biovision launches the project “CLEVER” for sustainable consumption in 2011.

CLEVER exhibition in Bazenheid, 2014.
Farmers working in the fields in Graubünden, Switzerland.

2012 – First successes in politics

More and more, Biovision expands its policy and advocacy work. At the Rio+20 Conference, Biovision together with other NGOs successfully advocated for a more sustainable global agriculture. You can read about how Biovision took the step onto the international political stage at that time in Newsletter 24 (in German).

Farming families make a statement in Assosa, Ethiopia, 2012.
In Switzerland, Biovision employees also set an example for more solidarity with the global South through sport. The first Head of Communications at Biovision David Fritz (on the right), who worked at Biovision until 2018 passed away shortly after leaving Biovision after a long and serious illness.

2013 – History is made

A historic event: Biovision and co-founder Hans Rudolf Herren (on the left) are awarded the Right Livelihood Award (“alternative Nobel Prize”), 2013

Hans Rudolf Herren is granted the Swiss Award in the category “Society” in recognition of his tireless work against hunger and poverty in Africa, 2013.

2014 – Globi becomes a Biovisionary

Globi is now also a true Biovisionary. Produced in collaboration with Biovision, the book Globi, the Clever Farmer is published. How Globi made the heads of Biovision staff spin during the production of the book can be read on page 7 in Newsletter 29 (in German).

Young and old attend the launch of the new Globi book in Zurich. 2014.
Children, tasting sweet honey, Tolay, Ethiopia, 2015.

2017 – SDSN Switzerland is founded

Together with the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) at the University of BernBiovision founds the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Switzerland, which works to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prominent guests already take part in the first conference in 2018: for Bertrand Piccard and Nobel Prize winner Jacques Dubochet.

From left to right: Urs Wiesmann, SDSN Launch Conference moderator Katrin Muff, psychiatrist and pioneer Bertrand Piccard, biophysicist and Nobel Prize winner Jacques Dubochet, Océane Dayer, and Secretary General SDSN Switzerland/Biovision Michael Bergöö.
Traditional pastoralism and a sustainable future: Msee Sine Wario, a descendant of the Gabra and Sakuye nomadic groups, is responsible for herding the camels in the project area near Merti, Kenya, 2013. Harmony for people and animals for just and sustainable development is a goal of the SDGs.

Biovision officially becomes a partner organization of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in 2017. SDC Director Manuel Sager (left) visits a bio-research project in Kenya.

The Kamuguga primary school in Kenya pitches in 2018.

2018 – 20 years of Biovision

The support of our partners and the commitment of Biovision’s staff bear fruit. 20 years after the foundation of Biovision, an overwhelming 1000 participants attend the anniversary symposium at Volkshaus Zurich in 2018.

Parasitic ichneumon wasps help mango farmers. Kenya, 2018.

2019 – Biovision opens an office in Geneva

Biovision takes a big step into the French-speaking part of Switzerland and expands its activities at home by opening its Geneva office in 2019.

Alessandra Roversi, Sébastien Dutruel and Charlotte Pavageau in front of Maison Internationale de l’Environnement, where Biovision moved into its offices.

In the same year, the Biovision Africa Trust (BvAT), an organization founded by Biovision and based in Nairobi, Kenya, celebrates its tenth anniversary. Hans R. Herren with Biovision CEO and BvAT President at the time Andi Schriber also attend the celebrations.

A maize farmer at work in the field. Kenya, 2018.

2021 – Important votes ahead

For the first time, Biovision carries out a large-scale information and awareness-raising campaign on the occasion of a federal referendum. The drinking water and pesticide initiatives, which are intended to make Swiss agriculture more sustainable, are placed on the ballot. The initiatives are rejected by the population.

2022 – The team has grown

What began with just a few staff members has grown into a team of impressive size almost 25 years later. In 2022, Biovision’s more than 40 employees gather for a group photo.

Sadia Mohamed in front of her herd of camels, Kenya, 2021. In the camel project, people begin by working with only a few animals. Our partner VSF supports them in breeding and keeping their livestock.
In times of drought, camels also eat the leaves of acacia trees to take in water. Kenya, 2021.

2023 – The successful food system summit

The Food System Summit takes place in Bern. The handover of the 126 recommendations from the Citizens’ Council for Food Policy and the scientific guide on levers and policy pathways for a sustainable future of Swiss food is the initial highlight of Biovision’s activities in Switzerland.

Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, Brigita Marion and Jasmin Fischer represent the Citizens’ Council
There are barriers to overcome: a man in the Biovision project area of Samburu, Kenya, jumps over an erosion ditch.

Biovision’s holistic, knowledge-based approach today extends from the field to the plate and involves all actors in the food system. We, biovisionaries, are committed to this with passion and expertise. To all those who support this global commitment, we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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