The All Parliamentary AgroEcology Debate

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Richard Higgins first attended the Agroecology debate with Kevin Mascarenhas on the topic of agricultural waste remediation in the UK.

Second meeting on Agroecology attended was on the subject of Mega Dairies in the UK. The main speaker at this event was a professor from USA who talked about Mega Diaries in the state of Missouri where he described that every stream and every river in the state was polluted with effluent from the Mega Diary projects there.

Richard spoke on animal disease. If we already have a huge disease problem in our livestock here in the UK the installation of Mega Dairies is going to increase the risk of Mega disease. This means we could lose larger numbers of animals than if we continued with smaller farms. Smaller mixed farms are the solution for remedying this problem of disease. By proper land management through crop rotations and the generation of healthy soil by composting all farm waste properly the soil fertility levels will be built upon rather than being depleted by continual cropping of the same crop. Soil should be continually built up rather than continually being depleted. This will lead to good health both in animals and man. The sign of good soil health is the capacity for resistance to disease in animals and man.

Third meeting:

“Mainstreaming Agroecology: Implications for Global Food and Farming Systems”- Report Launch

Joint meeting of the APPG on Agroecology and the Centre for Agroecology and Food Security, Coventry University

World Food Day: Wednesday October 16th, 11am – 12:30pm

Committee Room 12, Palace of Westminster

Chair: Baroness Miller of Chiltern Domer

Introduction

Agroecology provides a much-needed new approach to food and farming by looking at the systems as a whole. This includes the social and economic as well as environmental context offood production systems.

The Centre for Agroecology and Food Security is a joint initiative between Coventry Universityand Garden Organic that aims to conduct critical, rigorous and relevant research which will contribute to the development of resilient food systems, which are economically sound, socially just and promote long-term protection of natural resources.

Their recent discussion paper ‘Mainstreaming Agroecology: Implications for Global Food and Farming Systems’ has a specific focus on policy implications. In a forward by HRH the Prince of Wales, Patron of Garden Organic, he states that this “serious” new report documents the evidence why agroecology can “provide a significant contribution to the world’s food security”.

Agroecology’s potential in the UK is currently neglected, only about 2% of the public agri-technology research is spend on it (versus 15% on GM crops and 13% on marker assisted breeding). This ratio needs to reverse and UK public research investment should back a much wider technology and innovation mix which truly has the potential to contribute to global food security.

Speakers

Dr Michel Pimbert

Director CAFS Coventry University

MichelAn agroecologist by training, Michel’s work centres on food sovereignty and agroecology, sustainable agriculture and livelihoods, the political ecology of natural resource and biodiversity management, as well as participatory action research and deliberative democratic processes. Over the last 30 years he has published extensively in these areas, linking theory with practice. Michel previously worked at the UK based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India, the University François Rabelais de Tours in France, and the World Wide Fund for Nature in Switzerland.

Dr. Pimbert has been a Board member of several international organisations working on food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture, environment, and human rights. He has lived and worked in South Asia and Europe, with experience in West Africa, Latin America and South East Asia.

Dr Ulrich Schmutz

Garden Organic, Coventry

Ulrich PictureUlrich is an agricultural economist. For the last 10 year he worked for research charity Garden Organic (formally known as Henry Doubleday Research Association, HDRA) at Ryton Gardens, near Coventry. His research interests are organic horticulture, agroecology, environmental and ecological economics. He is involved in many practical research projects in the UK, EU and overseas.

Richard Higgins arrived half way through this meeting and at the end the subject of the recycling of wastes came up and that of recycling human effluent back into agriculture and that more research was needed to effect this properly and on a more local and national level to help improve Food Security. Richard mentioned that Howard had done much work on this over 100 years ago and that we were practising thermophilic composting of human effluent at our Well End Micro-farm.  The interest voluminised into a further half hour debate on the subject resulting in a rapid exchange of business cards with many members of the group and firstly with the speakers of the day who said they wanted to visit our farm. The secretary suggested that a visit could possibly be arranged for members of the agroecology group to visit Well End.

Further reading

100 years later… Farming Today

Some of the principles that Howard wrote about 100 years ago are just being talked about in this broadcast of Farming Today. From the Groundswell

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