International DAAD Alumni Seminar 2 - 9 February 2016, Goettingen
10 - 12 February 2016, Nuremberg
A group of 25 Alumni from 18 different countries visited the University of Göttingen and the BioFach trade fair 2016 in Nuremberg. The overall concept of this Alumni Special Project was to bring international experts from various ministries, research institutes, and NGOs together in order to exchange experiences and elaborate new ideas during the workshop in Göttingen and furthermore discuss and present the outputs while visiting the world´s largest trade fair on organic products, BIOFACH 2016.
The seminar program in Göttingen included the presentation of their own case studies, initiatives or research projects by the Alumni as well as excursions and visits to local producers (Käsehof Landolfshausen) or distributors of organic products (Naturkost Elkershausen). The plenary discussion on "Perspectives of sustainable/organic farming for "developing" countries" with Viola v. Cramon-Taubadel, Dr. Marie v. Meyer-Höfer, Eberhard Prunzel-Ulrich, and Prof. Dr. Matin Qaim enabled a lively discussion between the invited experts, the international Alumni-group, and the interested public.
After five intensive and interesting days, the group traveled to Nuremberg together with the participants of the parallel Alumni-seminar that had been based at the University of Kassel-Witzenhausen. The BioFach trade fair offered a variety of interesting exhibitions, scientific talks, and last but not least contacts for future projects.
The agriculture sector is central for poverty and thus hunger eradication. A profound change in the global food system is needed to nourish the current 795 million people without access to adequate nutrition, and the additional number of humans expected by 2050.
Organic agriculture offers several synergistic benefits for overcoming the biophysical and socio-economic challenges of poverty and hunger reduction as well as inequality, and the conservation of natural resources. It diminishes many of the environmental impacts of conventional agriculture by taking a proactive approach regarding the consideration of medium- and long-term effects of agricultural interventions on the agro-ecosystem, aiming to produce food while establishing an ecological balance.
Organic agriculture helps to reduce the vulnerability of farmers, as organic systems are often more resilient against extreme weather events and the diverse organic crop-livestock systems provide a diverse set of outputs. Nonetheless, organic farmers in "developing" countries need to access international markets. They often require rather expensive certification and have an increased demand for labour. Particularly in the Global South, fundamental science and applied research are crucial requirements for the development of a competitive organic agriculture.
The alumni seminar aimed to evaluate the provided promises for sustainable agricultural development as well as its shortcomings. Participants, scientific and practical experts, together with local actors elaborated, if and which political and societal measures could address the recent challenges in sustainable agriculture and ensure the success of an organic agriculture development strategy.
It facilitated networking between the participants and with scientists and international students of the University of Goettingen. By means of poster presentations and discussion fora, visits of research facilities, fair-trade and agricultural enterprises they got in touch with institutions and organizations involved in sustainable agriculture. They had furthermore the opportunity to develop and exchange ideas with renowned experts during the seminar and at the fair.
The seminar was scheduled in the run-up to the BIOFACH 2016. BIOFACH in Nuremberg is the place where people share their passionate interest in organic food, get to know each other and exchange views, and this for more than 25 years. As a visiting professional you can meet organic producers from the international organic market and be inspired by the sector´s latest international trends. In 2015 BIOFACH attracted 2,141 exhibitors and 44,624 trade visitors from 130 countries.
The seminar was organized and hosted by the Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use (CBL), Section of Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture and Forestry (SeTSAF), University of Göttingen. The seminar was offered by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in the framework of the program Alumni Special Projects. The costs were mainly covered by funds from the DAAD provided by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).