The 6th Global Consortium of Higher Education and Research for Agriculture (GCHERA) 2009 Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya in the African continent.
The International Conference in Kenya (6th GCHERA Conference) availed a forum for international exchange of modern technologies, scientific views and cultural trends in the training of undergraduate and post-graduate students, as well as part of one global family.
“Food, Health and Energy: Challenges for Sustainable Agriculture”
Agriculture and Food Security
The global food crisis continues to be an imperative issue for all nations, not just those in Africa and Asia. The quest for food security has led many to look toward another “Green Revolution”.
The subtheme focused on long-term challenges facing world agriculture and how the development and appropriate use of agricultural knowledge, science and technologies can be brought to bear on reducing hunger and poverty.
Agriculture and health
Agriculture affects health, and health affects agriculture. Agriculture supports health by providing food and nutrition for the world’s people and by generating income that can be spent on healthcare. In addition most medicines are from agricultural produce and hence great opportunity for pharmaceuticals. However, agriculture also can pose major threats to health through increased incidence of malaria linked to irrigation, pesticide poisoning, and diseases transmissible from farm animals to humans in intensive livestock system. Loss of labor, knowledge, and assets through HIV, TB especially in developing countries can have disastrous effects on agriculture. So coordinating agriculture and health interventions can yield significant welfare benefits. There therefore needs to be a precise linkage between the two sectors. How do the linkages work? Where do opportunities for joint action lie, and what are the impediments? How can the agricultural and health sectors work together more closely and thereby contribute to addressing poverty?. Issues like the challenges to linking agriculture and health in policy, multiple, bidirectional linkages between agriculture and health were discussed. Opportunities for Improving the Synergies between Agriculture and Health were also explored.
Agriculture and sustainability
The focus of this sub-theme was to increase adoption of diverse agricultural innovations by creating sustainable networks, improving policy frameworks, farmer, industries and private sector participation in agricultural education, research and development, and creating sustainable agricultural systems. A sustainable agricultural system is profitable, improves the quality of life of individuals and communities. Land ethics that considers the long-term good of all members of the land community will also be discussed. Prudent use of renewable and/or recyclable resources, protection of the integrity of natural systems so that natural resources are continually regenerated.
Agricultural universities have been slow to respond effectively to changing stakeholder and market needs, and are in increasing danger of becoming irrelevant. The question of whether the Universities are linking well with governments, industries and the private sector in defining policies and strategies will also be discussed. Interfaculty linkages and partnership in agricultural research and innovations will also be explored.
Agriculture and Energy
Agriculture has a dual role as an energy user and as an energy supplier in the form of bioenergy. This energy function of agriculture offers important rural development opportunities as well as one means of climate change mitigation by substituting bioenergy for fossil fuels. This subtheme focuses on the challenges and opportunities of advancing modern bioenergy technology, in general, and on the technical, environmental and economic benefits of the energy function of agriculture. The most effective government policies that have expanded renewable energy production were explored. Recent trends in energy use in agriculture, renewable energy production opportunities; the policies that have helped foster those opportunities, and the prospects for renewable energy markets were also discussed, as well as new Direction for Energy in Agriculture – the Use of Measurable Indicators.
Agricultural challenges and graduate profiles
Participants reflected upon whether or not the agricultural universities of the world are responding effectively and creatively to the needs of their stakeholders.
Despite technological advances, such as improved varieties, genetically modified organisms, and irrigation systems, weather is still a key factor in agricultural productivity, as well as soil properties and natural communities. The agricultural sector is also a driving force in the gas emissions and land use effects thought to cause climate change. [Impact of climate change on agriculture and Impact of agriculture on climate change were discussed here.
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