Blogs

Nourishment by Insects!?

Yes, this idea is slowly being more accepted by western societies and becoming accessible to the increasingly growing population worldwide, as we could see in some of the presentations today! Traditionally used in Asian, Latin American and African cuisines, this practice has the potential to play an important role for nutrition security, helping to attend food demand and combat hunger. Due to the limited amount of agricultural land and natural resources, there is an urgent need to find other alternatives for protein sources than conventional meat products. In some places (e.g. Kenya and Uganda), it already constitutes 5–10% of protein intake of the rural and urban populace. Also, livestock production is a leading cause of anthropogenic-induced climate change; therefore more sustainable diets are needed.

Africa indigenous vegetables face extinction!

Kenya like many other African countries faces double nutrition burden – undernutrition and over-nutrition. The former is due to inadequate nutrient intake and the latter could be attributed to changes in lifestyle such as consumption of western food junks coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, paraphrased from Anne Aswani Musotsi’s presentation. Anne is from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenya and she presented on – “African Indigenous Vegetables (AIV) Contribution Towards Food Security and Safety in Kenya: A Meal Cultures Perspective”. She mentioned that AIV could ensure nutrition security but unfortunately the consumption is low and many of the vegetables are going to extinction. This is counterintuitive especially in a society with malnutrition and millions of people suffering from avoidable and irreversible nutritional consequences. AIV consumption is very low because due to changes in cultural practices over the years, people eat other crops and shifted attention from indigenous vegetables – colonial influence paradigm.

Eat egg during pregnancy, get a stupid baby

The title sounds very strange but it is a perception in some regions in Africa including the upper region of Gambia. Taboos during pregnancy are one of the many forms of food taboos present in Africa, influencing consumption pattern and food habit. Therefore, it is imperative to consider the cultural elements of the people in every intervention to ensure optimal impact. This thought was considered in Céline Termote’s research on “Role of Biodiversity in Improving Dietary Diversity and Quality of Complementary Foods for Infants and Young Children in Southern Benin”. Céline assessed local biodiversity and conducted an ethnobotanical survey which identified 146 plant species and 148 animal species known as food sources. The result shows a huge opportunity for local food ingredients that can be used to enhance food and nutrition security. However, only a handful of the species are currently consumed as food in spite of the nutritional gaps present in the region. But why are people only eating few plant species available? Says one of the participants. According to Céline, some local foods are tagged “food for the poor” hence nobody wants to associate with them even though they are nutritious.

In Zambia, if you touch maize, you lose an election!

Agriculture can improve nutrition but it is not what you think. Namukolo Covic, coordinator A4NH in Ethiopia gave an interesting perspective in her keynote speech at the plenary session II.  She reiterated that countries must leverage on non-agricultural sectors to compliment agriculture interventions. Unless this is done, agriculture and food systems cannot work to ensure optimal nutrition outcome. This is not peculiar to developing countries, even the developed countries face similar challenges. An integrated or holistic approach will no doubt improve the contribution of agriculture to food security and nutrition.

Stand Up (for the champions!) – Part 2

Tropentag 2018 Day 1-056

And this year Josef G. Knoll European Science Award goes to …. Dr. Denise Margaret Matias (University of Bonn), Dr Cristian Andre ETH Zurich) and Dr. Ariane Krause (TU Berlin).

One striking quote from Denise’s presentation was presumably from Albert Einstein – which says that "if bees disappear from the earth, humans would be extinct within 4 years". Though this quote is definitely not from Einstein, it carries equal weight as Einstein – the greatest scientist ever! This same level of importance of bees drives Denise’s life-saving mission. In pursuing her passion, she systematically integrated indigenous groups and honey bees, thereby improving the livelihood of the people and promoting conservation agriculture. 

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It's Already Been Worth It

If you're thinking about being a Student Reporter for Tropentag in the future, I really recommend it. Of course it's the 1st day and we're riding on a high of exhaustion, buzz from the energy at the conference and, yes, a buzz from the wine offered at the social gathering. But if the past 3 days are anything to go by, I'd say send off your application ASAP and pack your bags for Tropentag 2019 Kassel-Witzighausen. 

I don't want to speak to you about the conference, who won what award, or who presented what poster. I want to speak to you about the backstage action in room 057 in Block A. 

Student reporters 2018

Plenary Session I: Keynote speeches

Dr. Ramon L. Espinel from the Facultad de Ciencias de la Vida, ESPOL-Guayaquil, in Ecuador, started our first plenary session doing a presentation about smallholder agriculture, biodiversity and food security. He explained the aspects involved on the small-scale agricultural production, mostly done by family members aiming to combine different species of vegetables and animals to build a resilient and complete ecosystem. “Conventional agriculture” (name questioned by an audience member, since it is more industrial than actual traditional agricultural methods), creates basically extensive monocultures with intensive technology and inputs, based on the principles of the Green Revolution. Dr. Espinel stated that the results obtained on his research supports the agroecological approach, which would give an opportunity for thousands of peasants to have a living and offer good quality food for the population around.

Tropentag 2018 Day 1-026

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Tropentag 2018 Participant Infographic

Tropentag 2018 is the largest conference related to Tropical and Subtropical Agriculture. This year, Tropentag is held in Ghent, Belgium. There are almost 900 people registered coming from 70 countries all over the world. More than half of these participant are students; Bachelors, Masters, and PhD’s. 450 contributions to tropical and subtropical research consist of 111 oral presentations, 339 poster presentations, and 9 keynotes.

Tropentag 2018 Participant Infographic

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