16 October – World Food Day at the European Parliament

October 16 is World Food Day. It marks the anniversary of the creation of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO (16 October 1945). The FAO works hard to ensure that this day is  “celebrated” all over the world. The day was marked at the European  Parliament in Brussels by a conference with the title “Zero Hunger by 2030 is possible”. We will take a quick look at the event because, along with the usual ritual speeches, there were some very interesting presentations.

The director of the Bioeconomy programme of the European Commission’s Research and Innovation DG stressed the importance of European research on food, and in particular the contribution it can and must make at the political level. Research on food must combine all aspects, from the most technical to those that are most closely connected to society and the environment. Separating or splitting them up, as often happened in the past, removes the possibility of obtaining concrete and feasible outcomes for future generations. Research and studies must therefore take on the systems of food production, diet and nutrition, while at the same time respecting food security in all its detail, as well as the creation of decent jobs. Continua a leggere “16 October – World Food Day at the European Parliament”

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Where there’s a will there’s a way!

On the subject of thoughts that become actions, we report here on two initiatives that are only indirectly to do with the soil, but which we regard as highly relevant.

The first is in Sweden, the second is a supermarket in Amsterdam.

Sweden: “Transforming our world” is the UN’s sustainable development agenda to be achieved by 2030. In addition to Zero consumption of fertile soil  169 targets are listed for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. One of them is the development of sufficient energy for a nation’s needs without CO2 emissions. Sweden will hit this target in December 2018, 12 years ahead of time. The country has invested particularly in wind energy and has reached a production capacity of 18 terawatt-hours a year.

Sweden will gain two advantages from reaching energy autonomy: i) the increased supply of electricity will lower costs for individual consumers; ii) businesses will also benefit from lower energy costs, with distributors close to their premises and without the need to invest in solar panels, wind turbines or other infrastructure. Continua a leggere “Where there’s a will there’s a way!”

Agricology

There is an obvious convergence between the need to move away from industrial farming based on chemicals and mechanization to a type of farming that is more ecological and based on the rhythms and resilience of nature. From the FAO to the various national and international farmers’  organizations, people are asking how we can produce food while protecting the environment. The starting point is the need to regard the soil as a substrate to be defended and allowed to regenerate. This is why we increasingly speak of cultivating the soil to defend it and restore its fertility.

The 4×1000 Initiative is one of the tools that should help make this convergence a concrete reality. Its platform offers an opportunity to bring together information, publications, experience and ideas of those who are working towards this goal. It is not the only one, however. For a little over a decade a group of farmers and researchers have been collaborating on the creation of  “Agricology“. Their starting point was the need to rethink cultivation methods in order to avoid decreases in soil fertility and pest control as well as the increase in input costs. Their aim is to share their knowledge in order to create systems of farming that are more efficient, resilient and profitable. This is sustainable farming that uses agroecological techniques such as reduced working of the soil, cover crops and the reintegration of livestock.

We think our readers may be particularly interested in a 12 part publication “Know your soils” which helps farmers to look at the soil through different eyes in order to reconsider its value and the way that it is used.

Agro-ecological farming in West Africa

One of our readers responded to our item in the previous newsletter about the first African symposium of the 4per1000 Initiative (Johannesburg 24 to 26 October 2018) by letting us know about an exciting project:  “Agro-ecological Transition Support Project in West Africa” was launched in Abuja (Nigeria) on 27 April.

This is an 8 million euro project involving Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal and Togo. Its purpose is to support agro-ecological transition in West Africa through the financing of projects that support agro-ecological intensification and exchanges of experience. Financed by the French Development Agency (AFD), the main priority of the project is to support agro-ecology in particular on family farms in order to help them produce high quality food sustainably and in sufficient quantities while facing changes in climate. Continua a leggere “Agro-ecological farming in West Africa”

A card game that helps understand Agroecology

We are always on the lookout for tools that can help convey the importance of protecting the soil without necessarily using difficult scientific arguments. This is why we were excited to find out about an initiative that aims to use games to help people learn about agroecology.

Agro Challenges is a card game that helps young people learn about and understand agroecology through play. It was devised and produced by the Réseau Éducation à la Citoyenneté et à la Solidarité Internationale (Red) for agricultural education. The idea came about during a Franco-Brazilian seminar that set out to devise an educational game that could be used in all secondary schools. It consists of cards setting out the challenges that agriculture currently faces at local and international level. The players (between 3 and 6) can find out how much they know about agroecology while at the same time discussing the economic, dietary and social implications for the farming of the future. Continua a leggere “A card game that helps understand Agroecology”

The first Agroecology Europe Forum

In 2014, the FAO in Rome hosted the first International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition . In the wake of the symposium, several follow-up meetings were organised, also at the FAO’s initiative, on several continents. In Europe, the meeting was held in Lyon (France) on 25-27 October 2017, within the prestigious Isara University. Over 300 guests, representing farmers, technicians, researchers, students, national and international public institutions, civil society and NGOs attended this first Agroecology Europe Forum.

As a reminder, agroecology is understood as the implementation of ecological principles to agriculture, whether to produce food or other products, all of which is based on the management of agrosystems. This word encapsulates an agricultural concept whereby the scientific and social components of the ecosystem are taken into account. In other words, it is about creating a sustainable way of farming, able to feed the growing world population without jeopardising the environment and its natural resources. Naturally, it must also bring about economic viability to the farmers. The fundamental binding factor here is the soil. Continua a leggere “The first Agroecology Europe Forum”

European Network of Cities for Agroecology

What brings Spanish, English, German, Belgian and French cities together?

The will to achieve environmental recovery in suburban areas by supporting ecosystems and organic agriculture. Under this light, around 15 cities including Bristol, Bruges, Freiburg, Grenoble and Madrid created the European Network of Cities for Agroecology. This idea came from a European Commission Life Project, and was launched last December in Zaragoza, at a convention entitled Huertas Life Km 0 (Vegetable Gardens, Life Km 0).

This laid the ground for the European network shortly joined by 15 cities. Continua a leggere “European Network of Cities for Agroecology”