Report of the Conference on the Soil 25/11/2019

The report on the Conference on the Soil of 25 November 2019 – Soil and the SDGs: challenges and need for action – has now been published. We invite all to read this excellent summary of the discussions and speeches. Here we want to concentrate on the two pages of recommendations: on their own they could be regarded as the programme to be inserted into the GDE planning which as yet does not pay much attention to the soil.

There are four chapters listing the actions to be undertaken. Let us read carefully what is proposed.

 How should we act? Continua a leggere “Report of the Conference on the Soil 25/11/2019”

Changing the CAP

On 2 May the European Commission ended the public consultation on the proposals for the Common Agricultural Policy over the next few years. The idea of the CAP was there at the start of the European Community, in order to put into practice the aims set out in the Treaty of Rome (1957). The CAP forms part of the current EU Treaty, with article 39 setting out its aims:

(a) to increase agricultural productivity by promoting technical progress and by ensuring the rational development of agricultural production and the optimum utilisation of the factors of production, in particular labour;

(b) thus to ensure a fair standard of living for the agricultural community, in particular by increasing the individual earnings of persons engaged in agriculture;

(c) to stabilise markets;

(d) to assure the availability of supplies;

(e) to ensure that supplies reach consumers at reasonable prices. Continua a leggere “Changing the CAP”

Efficient management of the soil

On 5 December 2018 the European Commission put out an interesting document to explain the aims of the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Brief n. 5 is the one that deals with management of the soil. Over 16 pages the document stresses the importance of protecting the soil and its fertility. This is what it has to say about the importance of the soil:

“That soil is one of the most important natural resources that provide us with vital goods and services to sustain life is an understatement. Soil being a habitat and gene pool, it serves as a platform for human activities, landscape and heritage, and acts as a provider of raw materials. A healthy, fertile soil is at the heart of food security, thus rendering any threat to these functions a direct threat to food availability.”

The first part of the report describes the risks to which European soils are subject: erosion, organic matter (SOM) decline, biodiversity loss, compaction, contamination, sealing, salinization, and desertification. Continua a leggere “Efficient management of the soil”

Greece – Short food supply chains

The concept of short food chains, in which intermediaries between farmers and consumers are  removed, is part of the CAP 2014-2020.

At EU level, different forms of short food supply chains (SFSCs) have developed in the last years. Advocates say SFSCs are not just about selling local cheap products as they also have positive spill-over effects on rural societies, the environment and agrotourism.

In Greece there developed a movement without intermediaries that created direct links between local farmers and consumers. Short food supply chains became popular in Greece following the economic crisis, which forced smallholders and consumers to seek alternative ways of getting food at affordable prices.

There was therefore an uproar when the mayor of Kozani, a city in northern Greece, banned “movement without intermediaries“. Local authorities declared that the farmers’ market, which has been in place for the last five years, breached existing legislation. Continua a leggere “Greece – Short food supply chains”

SIP Forum: The Greens at the European Parliament – a conference

The Greens EFA held a session entitled ‘How to really feed the world? Fighting hunger at the root’ at the European Parliament on 18 October. The session was twofold and held 150 participants (farmers, agronomists, students, journalists and MEPs). In the morning, there were talks on the use of pesticides; the afternoon session aimed at reviewing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

More concretely, the morning session dealt with the following issues: the effects of pesticides on the right to food; the Stop Glyphosate! Campaign; data and information manipulation from chemical multinationals. Initiatives and proposals were presented by associations fighting for the elimination of glyphosate, indicating alternative methods of use (a Pesticides Action Network report) together with instructions and recommendations by several farmers, which were shown in the following video.

The SIP Forum was also invited to attend the morning session of the conference. Its representative had the opportunity to “give soil a voice’ underlining:

1) Time: a fundamental parameter to take into account is time. In order to grow in a natural manner soil needs between 100 and 200years, to increase by only 1cm;

2) Soil means life: it breathes, pulses, and it is full of bacteria, large and small-scale animals, insects, plant species, vacuum[1]

3) Ways to combat weeds should be decided by taking into account soil and the wildlife inhabiting it, not just by getting rid of weeds.

4) Some methods are particularly dangerous for soil (hot water, electricity, vapour, fire…)

5) The transition time should be respected: we cannot say to farmers that after eliminating pesticides in only a couple of months everything will be good and they will grow pure organic products. The soil must be cleansed beforehand, and after we must allow it to restore its fertility.

The Forum SIP PowerPoint presentation is available upon request, the entire event was recorded, and the online streaming is available.

[1] Technical word indicating the micro spaces inside the soil containing air. Their dislocation, direction and composition are studied to understand the soil conditions.