Food for the Hungry : Findings from the UN Assessment of Agriculture (IAASTD-Report)
with Prof.Hans Herren, Co-chair of the IAASTD
Venue : Aprodev office, Boulevard Charlemagne 28, 1000 Brussels
Rising food prices on the world markets and hunger revolts in many developing countries are signs of a global food crisis calling for a change in global food policies. It is therefore a very aptly timed coincidence, that as public attention is drawn to matters of agriculture and how to feed the world, a study is being presented that provides long term orientation of where the international community should be heading in this field : The IAASTD-report (International Agricultural Assessment of Science and Technology for Development) is the result of an intensive consensus building of more than 800 scientists from all over the world. It took more than for years in preparation and also involved representatives from civil society.
The objective of the assessment was to find out in which way knowledge systems and science have contributed to combat hunger, poverty and ecological destruction in agriculture, and where we should move from here. The process is comparable to the report of the IPCC (International Panel of Climatic Change). It claims to represent an international scientific consensus on how to redirect agricultural research for the benefit of the poor. 56 governments have signed and endorsed the final synthesis report.
The findings call for a fundamental rethinking of the high tech and capital intensive agricultural development und of a reductionist science. Focusing on soil fertility, responsible water management, responsible energy use and the protection of natural resources, the report argues that combining sustainability issues and poverty reduction requires putting small farmers in the South at the centre. This is also seen as a precondition for increasing yields in a socially inclusive manner. The report advocates a science directly relating to the problems of the farmers in the fields and a technological progress that is “location specific”. Emphasis is laid on methods of farming, i.e. the knowledge of the farmers themselves, as opposed to purchased inputs, which create dependency on unreliable market forces. The IAASTD-report critically scrutinises the liberalisation process of the past and calls for a more balanced trade system, leaving the weak a chance to survive in global competition. There is a need for revised trade rules that support instead of obstruct smallholder development.
16.00 h : Welcome Coffee
For more information on the report, see www.agassessment.org