Festive opening session at the Audimax

Today at 12:30 pm the Tropentag 2016 has been officially opened in the Audimax by Bernhard Freyer, director of the Division of Organic Farming at BOKU University. Let's recall together, in order of appearance of the speechmakers, what has been said.

Welcome words

Joseph Glössl, Vice Chancellor for Research, welcomed the keynote speakers and introduced BOKU University emphasizing the role of its Centre for Development Research.

Robert Zeiner, head of Programmes and Projects International (ADA), appealed to all countries and stakeholders to act, and in general to support fair and sustainable production and resource management as well as to strengthen vulnerable groups. He stressed the importance of sustainable land use and local land management in assuring food security and avoiding resource related conflicts. Also, he underlined that equal access for smallholder farms is necessary.

Gerardo Patacconi, Officer-in-Charge at BOKU, then stressed the importance of sustainability and fairness in development work which could only be achieved by working together.

2016 student reporters: here they are!

Since 2010, the team of Student Reporters has been sponsored by the initiated institution ATSAF e.V. that takes care of drawing the 12 team members from many different European Universities. They come from all around the world: Europe, Africa, North and South America, Asia! The team is in charge of spreading the conference material online in form of articles on a multi-author blog platform and Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube, by so doing facilitating the communication within the scientific community and expanding Tropentag’s many voices. Let’s check their introduction video out!

Grazing Game; Playful Way to Playing Climate Change

Learning of climate change now comes to a new method. Thanks to Grace Villamor and her team for Grazing Game. This game design as a tool to study the behavior of farmers is meant to respond to climate variability adaptation. Grazing Game comes in Board Game and Online Game. Villamor conducted trials in Benin and Ghana. “We do this also in order to avoid bias from farmers. Often, when we interview them, they tend to give exactly the answer we want to hear,” said the ZEF researcher. Participatory games like Grazing Game seem to be a solution against such bias.


Ghana and Benin have been selected as trial countries because of their geographical location, at west Africa. And, as predicted, West Africa will have the most extreme climate change. Farmers, as actors, need to respond and take decisions on environmental conditions such us fluctuation of rainfall. Their response has reflected in the board game.

Men and Women Respond Differently

Reflective Photobooth– A creative method to challenge detachments in today’s food system

Workshop 2

Background: There is a rising detachment in agrifood systems as, especially in industrialized countries, the direct experience and contact with farmers is little and the gap between consumers and producers is high. Because of little knowledge about agriculture, there is an increased importance of second-hand sources like mass media communication about farming. Unfortunately, the stereotypic representation on the media with inherited values and pictures of family farming often distances groups further.

The goal: Challenging media perspective of farmers with several practical methods on public conferences and seminars. An innovative new approach to discovering power relations and problems derived from different cultural and social backgrounds.

Conduction: Setting up a studio -> selecting costumes –> taking pictures -> talk and reflect about it.

"Are you lecturing them?" - Self-critical reflexion on 5 year CGIAR experiment about livestock value chains

It’s nine o’clock on the first day of the Tropentag 2016, the room quickly filled up with people eager to hear what’s new about the sustainable integration of livestock smallholders in value chains through multi-stakeholder platforms. Following the motto „More meat, milk and fish for and by the poor “, during this interactive workshop CGIAR presented the results of their five-year research in developing countries, encouraging to ask critical and challenging questions in order to improve their model.

Workshop 5: Empowering smallholders through multi-stakeholder platforms and value chains

Background of the experiment is the increasing demand of livestock in developing countries, where smallholders currently provide about 70% of livestock produce. While the production of livestock thus offers great business opportunities, smallholders are often not part of this transition. CGIAR, in this “very expensive experiment”, tried to develop models, strategies and technologies to empower smallholders and women, ensure food security and improve health and environmental issues, amongst others.

Predicting the unpredictable?

In the workshop „From fragility to resilience - enabling vulnerable people to cope with shocks”, the question of how to deal with the unpredictability of crises, natural catastrophes and shocks led to an inspiring debate. Resilience, in the sense of ability to cope with shocks, is “a concept of an equilibrium” - as Michael Hauser from the Centre for Development Research at BOKU has put it. In contrast to resistance, it is a system´s dynamic response to change.

Workshop 6 on resilience

Leading up to multiple discussion groups organized in a world café method, three guests introduced the topic of resilience from different point of views. It has been most interesting to note how the debate was concentrating on the question of how to make changes, a crisis or even a shock more predictable. Possibly, predicting change is one option of increasing a system´s resilience. However, it may also be a way of resisting it. Furthermore, the question of differentiating between sustainability and resilience arose. In many ways, the latter is part of sustainability.

Prof. Bernhard Freyer on Tropentag 2016

We interviewed Prof. Dr. Bernhard Freyer, head of the department of Organic Farming System at BOKU University, and head of the local organizing committee before the beginning of the opening session. He shared with us the role of Tropentag in the North-South exchange of knowledge and the expected discussion in the several organized workshops and the exceptionally large poster presentation.

Interview to Prof. Freyer

Besides Tropentag 2016, “AgroFoods and Human Values: Toward Sustainable Foodscapes & Landscapes” in 2013, “Perspektiven sozialer und ökonomischer Gerechtigkeit Perspektiven sozialer und ökonomischer Gerechtigkeit - Auf den Spuren eines Wegbereiters: 150 Jahre Rudolf Steiner” in 2011, “Building sustainable rural futures. The added value of systems approaches in times of change and uncertainty / Transdisciplinarity as a framework for integrating science and stakeholders perspectives into development processes” in 2010, and “9. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau” in 2007 are only some of the several conferences he arranged and have been the chairperson of during his career.

Preparations finished, registration started successfully!

Today, September 18th, Tropentag 2016 received its first participants. Spring-smelling blooms have been put all around the University. The atmosphere is sparkling already.

The registration staff should better be sleeping tight tonight and be ready for tomorrow: Tropentag's guests will start arriving starting from 8 am!

Start of registration on sunday

Beauty in wait

We can't wait for the big start of Tropentag 2016!

Your Student Reporter Team

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