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Tropentag Poster Session Diary

It’s late afternoon, twenty minutes before the official start of the guided poster presentations. More or less a hundred posters hang around the big hall waiting for their accurate observation. Several stands with plenty and deep information enrich my view as I slowly walk up and down the rows. My mission is to analyze those discussing crop biotic stresses. While concentrating on reading the introductions and results of the scientific papers, the AULA gradually fills with people. Students, doctoral candidates, young professionals, professors, people with and without suits, all dedicated individuals trying to understand the core of life: nature.

As such, we want to know how nature behaves. We want to mimic it, and often we want to be in control of it. We sometimes fight it, and sometimes cooperate with it.

We experiment with biological agents such as fungal isolates to fight root-knot nematodes on pineapple plantations in Kenya to avoid unnecessary pesticide use. Or we compare a conventional single-culture cacao cropping system with a agroforestry system, a natural, resilient system that copes with rapid changing abiotic factors due to climate change. Of course, we don't want to deal with the origins of the problem, which are usually man-made. What about reducing waste? Rethinking nutrition? Learning to make do with less? Ultimately, we all strive for the same: living our dreams.

CIAT celebrates its 45 years anniversary

Tropentag 2012 hosts an oral session dedicated to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). The title of the session from CIAT is “soil and resilience".In the session, five scientists from CIAT presents various aspects of research on soils and resilience. For the one that did not attain the session, the following video is an exclusive interview of Dr. Bossio. For you, she highlights the main message the session tries to convey. To read more on the content of the presentations, click on one of the following title: Domestication of soil variability in Sub-Saharan Africa: Almost there (Job Kihara's presentation) Quesungual Slash and Mulch Agroforestry System (QSMAS): provider of ecological services (Aracely Castro's presentation) Prevent irreversible degradation of agro-ecoystem in Amazonia now! (Patrick Laville's presentation This year Mrs. Bossio is one of the key note speakers. She conveys an interesting message on soil management practice. For more details and a second interview of her, click on the following link: Soil is back on the agenda.

GIZ – Resilience is about decreasing vulnerability

On Tropentag 2012, the GIZ presents its different approaches to enhance resilience in agricultural systems by depicting some fields of action. The key-factor opposing resilience in rural development is the vulnerability of agricultural systems. The approach to decrease vulnerability acquired by the GIZ comprises economic, political and ecological as well as social aspects. Thus, it is distinct from approaches that focus only on ecological resilience of agricultural systems. Presenting experiences gained in Afghanistan, it was analyzed what development work needs to consider in a fragile state that faces insecurity, lack in welfare and political guidance. Key findings were that firstly main components in livelihood need to be assessed and respective main problems need to be identified. Then, taylor-made approaches that are sensitive to the traditional structures can be applied. Also of importance is the long-term commitment to the development. Finally, the new public knowledge platform is presented. It aims at overarching gaps between different sectors and on the other hand filling the general knowledge gap. The target group of the platform are young professionals and practitioners that can share knowledge on their respective field of experience.

Soil is back on the agenda

In this period of rapid change in land use, hunger is still a problem. In order to fight hunger, the promotion of ecological resiliency is needed. This is the main message Dr. Deborah Bossio, holding a PhD in Soil Science from the University of California, USA and working at the International Center for International Agriculture (CIAT), conveyed in today's second plenary speech. Tropentag 2012Dr. Deborah Bossio At the beginning of her speech, Dr. Bossio speaks to the audience about food issues such as chronicle hunger and yield gaps. She points out that the population density is high in areas of quality crop land, showing maps from the African continent found on the website of the Harvestchoice. She also highlights that soils and land use are central to planetary boundaries (climate change, chemical pollution, phosphorus cycle, nitrogen cycle, etc). Land use changes...some facts!

Göttigen and Kassel Universities Collaborate to host the Tropentag Conference 2012

Collaborating, Promoting, Discussing and being always relevant is key for the success of our institutions. This is a trait well portrayed by the Universities of Göttigen and Kassel.

The Tropentag conference this year has been organized by the Universities of Göttigen and Kassel that are currently cooperating in green areas of research. This cooperation between the 2 universities started in 2005 with synergies that extend to shared professorships and a joint Masters’ Programme on Sustainable International Agriculture that focuses on 3 key areas of agriculture: international organic agriculture, tropical agriculture and agribusiness and rural development economies. The joint research focuses on agroecological problems and the resilience of food production systems which is the theme of the tropentag this year.

Stuck under the Weather

A short film depicting impacts of the Orissa Floods on land and livelihoods by Dr. Joe Hill (Tropentag October 6, 2011). The Cyclone warnings on the radio were only sent out hours before it hit. The people of Orissa suffered significant losses and after the storm resided, their only resort was to salvage rice and coconut water. Relief aid only came 4-5 days later. This can almost be seen as an regular scenario in Orissa. Farmers have no land of their own, and if they do it's not fertile to grow enough. Farmers are also aware of their fertilizer use degrading their land fertility, but they have no choice despite the fact that it could cause the next floods to be even worse. Many farmers have resorted to fishing in order to survive but this too is not enough. While cyclones and floods wipe out any coastal aquatic life, industrial fishing in deep waters outside Orissa significantly reduce fish numbers coming into the coast, significantly reducing local fishermen's catch. On land, there is a lack of water and a lack of work. "Every day is a struggle to make ends meet."

The Multiple Collapse of Lake Naivasha - Approaching the Complexity in Social-Ecological Systems

"As I thought I understood it, then a new alien species would arrive and the whole thing would start again." David M. Harper, from the Department of Biology at the University of Leicester, is doing research at Lake Naivasha in Kenya for 30 years now. As an ecologist, he tried to understand the straight forward limnology of the lake. "And then I realised after about three or four years that the reason that the lake was functioning unpredictably was because it was full of alien species." What he learnt during this time reveals a lot what science is about. Simple explanations may be right for simple problems. But when it comes to ecological dynamics being influenced by humans and the other way around there is no such thing as simplicity. Therefore a more comprehensive approach is needed than a single discipline can offer. That is why Mr. Harper's work is an invaluable contribution to the understanding of the endogenous functioning of the system. But how to deal with external shocks, changes in governing institutions or the drastic increase in population? What are the consequences for the demand towards the lake? Can illegal water abstraction be prohibited by the existing institutions?
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