Farmers, researchers, policy makers, and proponents of CA from around the world will converge for the Conference on Conservation Agriculture for Smallholders (CASH) in Asia and Africa occurring in Mymensingh, Bangladesh from 7-11 December 2014. The focus on smallholder farmers is necessary, especially given the possibility for marginalization of this demographic’s interests in conferences with large agribusiness participation.
We are excited to announce that the Program Director of our CA website, Peter Hobbs, will be giving a keynote address for the Conference. The conference will play an important role in bringing together practitioners advancing the uptake and development of CA for small farmers. The current status of CA for smallholders will be discussed, and participants will establish connections for al stakeholders involved in spreading CA to smallholder farmers. Four themes will be discussed during the conference: 1) machinery, 2) weed management, 3) soil, water and agronomy, and 4) commercialization adoption and continuous improvement of CA-based technologies. The presentations will be accompanied with field visits, including one to the demonstration exhibit at the Bangladesh Agricultural University. Attendees will be given the opportunity to talk to CA leaders (producers, advisors, researchers, policy makers and industry), network with peers around the world, engage in policy discussion, and learn about the latest research. Registration ends on August 31st. Click here to register or read more about the program.
“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
While Dr. Montgomery, opener at the 6th World Congress on Conservation Agriculture, did not quite reach the elegance of Wendel Berry’s famous statement, his message was same: human existence relies on healthy soil, and based on the high rates of erosion presently occurring worldwide, civilization is on the edge of disaster. This bleak outlook was countered throughout the four-day event with evidence of the potential of conservation agriculture to reverse soil degradation. VIDEO: World Congress on Conservation Agriculture
The WCCA took place in Winnipeg, Canada from June 22-25, and was attended by farmers, researchers, agriculture company representatives, government representatives, and other participants interested in CA. Full conference proceedings can be found here. The gathering provided these stakeholders an opportunity to exchange new innovative technologies and practices, research findings, obstacles and opportunities of conservation agriculture. Over 300 people participated, representing 47 countries, including England, France, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Tunisia, Tanzania, India, and China. Two representatives of the Cornell University Conservation Agriculture group attended.
Highlights included our website sponsor, Howard Buffet, giving a keynote speech. He expressed concern that U.S. agriculture is not conforming to sustainable environmental practices, citing subsidies and farmers’ resistance to changing their practices as a cause. This could lead to producers falling behind other major agriculture exporters, such as Argentina and Brazil. He also recognized that the application of CA must be adapted to local conditions, with a balance between public and private involvement. Read more about Howard Buffet’s speech here.
Another feature of the conference was the release of the Soil Renaissance Strategic Plan released. The SRSP prioritizes educating the public on the tremendous importance healthy soils have to the future of civilization, and the precarious position the world’s soils are in at the moment. This “reawakening” will include focus on four different areas: measurement, economics, education, and research. Read more about SRSP here.
The 1st Africa Congress on Conservation Agriculture (ACCA) took place in Lusaka, Zambia from March 18-21, 2014. Its objective: to provide an opportunity to share experiences and exchanges between stakeholders in CA and raise awareness and promote adoption of CA as a way to farm sustainably and productively. It drew over 400 participants from 42 different countries.
A highlight of the Congress was a declaration that called for national and international support the spread of conservation agriculture to at least 25 million farmers across Africa by 2025. The rationale behind this declaration was CA’s role as a climate-friendly technology that can raise crop yields and lower environmental degradation. The declaration describes CA as one of the best options available to farmers that improves food security, farm profitability, and farmer livelihoods. Farmers participating in the conference reinforced this claim with personal stories about their successes after implementing CA. The goal of converting 25 million farmers to CA seems lofty, given that less than one million of Africa’s one hundred million farmers are currently practicing CA. However interest in CA has increased notably within the last decade and CA is expected to be a major contributor to the goal of 6% annual growth in the agriculture sector (which employs 80% of the population) set by the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme. The declaration identified the steps needed to improve CA’s adoption rate, including investment in education, training, science, and extension. Click for more information on the 1st ACCA.