The 2nd European Agroecology Forum was held in Iraklion, Greece, on 26-28 September 2019 and LIVESEED took the chance to be there and showcase its activities.
Besides the display of a poster on the apple task “Perspectives on European apple breeding and propagation under the frame of LIVESEED project”, a workshop on “Genetic Biodiversity in the Mediterranean area” was also organized. During the workshop Dr. Christina Vakali presented activities of AEGILOPS – Greek Network for Biodiversity and Ecology in Agriculture, a partner of LIVESEED working in organic breeding, participatory conservation and seed production.
The outputs of the workshop were the following:
- Agrobiodiversity is an essential component of agroecology as it increases the adaptability of crop systems to different agroecosystems and to a changing environment. More in general, it contributes to its goals of ecological and social justice of farming and food systems.
- A newly emerged approach to agrobiodiversity is coherent to a transition to agroecology. It builds on a dynamic management approach, aimed at favouring a high level of diversity, based on participation and decentralisation of experimentations, that is embedded in the farming systems and taking place in the local contexts. In this approach, farmers’ knowledge and experience, in interaction with all the other actors involved (participatory organic breeders, consultants, researchers, food chain stakeholders, consumers, informal seed system), are central. Furthermore, it emerges the importance of the social dimension in handling genetic resources, and this leads to integrate the on-farm management into a broader framework of community management.
- A cultural and economic valorisation of biodiverse products is a key to the sustainable use of plant genetic resources and, thus, of the agroecological production systems that manage these resources. This requires an appropriate management of these values along the agroecological supply chains up to consumers, together with a wide social acknowledgment of these values.
- Selection from local varieties and populations adapted to low input systems and organic seed production are still underestimated and should play a vital role in the future.
- The recovery of traditional varieties of fruit trees, as well as the compilation of the traditional knowledge associated to these varieties (i.e., agronomic management, historical and social values, etc.) is urgent in the Mediterranean regions because of dramatic biodiversity loss. Moreover, the traditional varieties of fruit trees can be used as a tool to redesign agricultural systems to face the future climate scenarios. Therefore, it is necessary to address specific actions to preserve traditional varieties of fruit trees in the Mediterranean context with a participatory approach that involves farmers and consumers.
- All this shows the importance of appropriate policies and forms of support, taking into account the urgency to face the problem of the loss of propagation material, the challenges of climate change (and their different manifestations in the European countries), the need for long-term research programmes for some crop systems (e.g establishment of biodiversity hotspots) and for participatory and democratic approaches, as well as the need to integrate multiple dimensions in managing agrobiodiversity (e.g. biological, social and cultural aspects).
Proceedings of the forum can be downloaded here: http://www.agroecologyeuropeforum.eu/forum-proceedings