1st International Conference on Agro-ecology- Nairobi, Kenya-2019,
Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems in Africa
Attended by the project coordinator, The inaugural conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems in Africa was convened in Nairobi, Kenya at the Safari Park Hotel and Casino from the 18th– 21st June 2019. Jointly convened by Biovision Africa Trust, IFOAM Organics International and World food Preservation Centre LLC, the conference brought together an unprecedented number of national, regional continental and international agroecology and agribusiness development stakeholders under the theme: Reducing Synthetic Fertilizers And Pesticides By Scaling Up Agro-Ecology and Promoting Ecological Organic Trade. In total 410 delegates attended the conference.
Over the four days, the delegates were afforded an opportunity to participate in pre-events, one-on-one breakfast/lunch/dinner side events, the seven (7) conference plenary sessions and the sixteen (16) breakout sessions. In addition, there were more than 20 exhibitors who displayed innovative products and technologies including educative posters, organized field excursion to selected organic enterprises where delegates were able to experience hands-on the ongoing organic agriculture efforts, the notable celebration of the 10th anniversary of the co-convener Biovision Africa Trust at a colourful one of its kind purely organic gala dinner hosted at the venue and award-giving ceremony to the top agroecology champions who had been nominated, vetted and approved. The conference rallying mantra was: An Action towards Sustainable Health, Nutrition, Consumption and Trade.
The response by international renown speakers of agroecology drawn from all the continents representing international organizations validated the conference as “ a truly international conference”. Indeed it was a knowledge packed-experience based, thought leadership focused- learning-based and solution-oriented conference. Presentations were anchored on best practice, an evidence-backed revelation that was aimed at eliciting discourse around fundamental issues that affect humans, animals, plants and the planet in the context of sustainable development not just now but also for the coming generations.
The conference also provided a platform for a wide spectrum of stakeholders to network, engage socially and intellectually as they look at the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and food systems.
The conference structure was designed in such a way that the seven plenary sessions were used for
discussing the key thematic subjects namely: 1) Impact of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides: need for
healthy and sustainable agriculture and food systems, 2) scaling up agroecology practices and systems,
3) strengthening regional ecological organic trade, 4) food security, nutrition, and sustainable consumption and 5) Policies and legislation, milestones in synthetic fertilizer and pesticide reduction.
The hallmark of the conference was the leadership roundtable that drew executive directors/chief executive directors from renowned organizations including FAO and EAC who set the scene by grounding the conference through insights of the current status of agriculture and food systems in Africa with comparison from across the globe. The Keynote speaker Dr. Hans Herren, President Millennium Institute and Biovision Foundation anchored the conference by delivering a powerful presentation on: Pathway to food system transformation in Africa. He reiterated that when handling the challenge of food system transformation in Africa there are four questions that leaders and stakeholders must strive to address: Why transformation? What needs to transform? How will Africa transform? and Who is responsible for the transformation? The pathway to transformation is possible however it will need a radical paradigm shift from ‘doing business as usual’ as it is no longer an option for Africa, to doing things differently and responsibly. The desirable transformation must take a systemic approach that looks at the entire ecosystem as one huge complex yet interdependent unit whose functionality/and or dysfunctionality in one unit has an impact on all other connected units. Africa, therefore, will require moving from uniformity to biodiversity and FAO has already laid a basis for scaling out through the 10 agroecology principles that have been experimented and proven to work.
The 16 breakout sessions further provided delegates opportunities to expound on the thematic subject areas coupled with cases that demonstrated best practice in the subject areas. The Communique was developed and captured the call to action and plans that emerged from the agroecology conference 2019. Included, in the Communique was the decision of the delegates and partners to be holding biannually Africa’s agroecology conference to maintain the conversation, momentum and progressively celebrate milestones as well as measure progress on agreed-upon action plans. The second international
agro-ecology conference in Africa will be held in 2021.
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