I talked to Mr Siegfried Harrer of the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) – an office that is subordinate to the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) with German Federal Minister for Food and Agriculture Schmidt. BMEL is one of the donors of Tropentag 2015. Harrer said that BMEL is spending 8.5 million Euros on 8 different science projects this year. The main interest of BLE being at Tropentag is to get in contact with other organizations and researchers. They organize workshops for local farmers around the world. Furthermore they have upcoming possibilities for young scientists from developing countries to get grants.
Siegfried Harrer (BLE) during the interview What are the tasks of BLE? BLE is responsible for the coordination, implementation and reports of projects. They edit new project proposals and recommend future partners. Nevertheless they serve as communicator between scientists, organisations and policies. Why does the BMEL fund Tropentag and why is the BLE represented at the conference? The main interest of BLE to be at Tropentag is to use this platform to get in contact with other organizations and researchers in the field of food security and nutrition to get new working points, ideas and input. They coordinated session 7.4 (Diversified agriculture and nutrition) and presented different partners and working fields. Afterwards they discussed how to improve the network. Partners in that session were amongst others: ZEF, Zalf, NutriHAF-Africa and Healthy-LAND. What should scientists know about BMEL? There seems to be quite a good connection between BMEL and the BMZ. Both ministries coordinate a workshop hosted by the GIZ, the “Arbeitskreis Welternährung” (Working Group on Global Food Security, AKWE) where ministries and NGOs meet with scientists and inform about possible cooperations. He told me that this opportunity is not so well known, but that it should be. Do they have interesting opportunities for students and young researchers? Not yet, but there is an upcoming program to pay scholarships for students from developing countries to do their PhDs in Germany at a university. So, stay connected! Links