Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems

Hosted by:
  • Wageningen University & Research
    Wageningen, The Netherlands

The Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems network has been organizing e-conferences since before the COVID-19 pandemic. For all e-conferences, the network supports an online platform where participants interact as they would in a ‘normal’ conference, by asking questions, discussing their work, and making new connections. These fully online conferences address timely and important topics, such as Fall Armyworm, a devastating maize pest native to the Americas which has been introduced to other continents. The first e-conference focused on Africa and was held in October 2018, A follow-up event on Asia was held in July 2019. Over 300 participants attended, of whom 60% were from Asia and 25% from Africa. Topics discussed included fall armyworm identification, monitoring of infestation levels, recommended responses, and future actions to reduce outbreaks.

In February, the network organized another e-conference on Resource Recovery from Sanitation for Food Security and Soil Health. This online event attracted over 350 participants from 80 different countries, mostly from Africa. Speakers and participants discussed various options to recycle sanitation waste into agriculture, and challenges and opportunities in applying these wastes, including case studies of specific programs in New York City and Kenya.

In April, the network hosted the webinar on A Living Income for Cocoa Farmers. This webinar was part of SDSN’s 24-hour webinar celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day by exploring the SDGs through the lens of well-being and happiness. Over 300 participants joined the webinar’s 11 experts to learn more about a living income, and to discuss the challenges and opportunities in making this a reality for cocoa farmers.

The network now manages three online platforms from its four e-conferences with a total membership of 2,150 individuals working in farming, extension, academia, policy-making, the nonprofit sector, and the private sector.

Looking Ahead

The network plans to organize an eDialogue to explore and discuss the future of small-scale farming. A mix of formats is under consideration, including an interactive blog series, live online panel discussions, video interviews, and audience videos.

The mission of Wageningen University and Research is to explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life. The strength of Wageningen University & Research lies in their combination of specialised research institutes with the university, as well as their strong expertise in the natural and social sciences. This union of expertise leads to scientific breakthroughs that can quickly be put into practice and be incorporated into education.