Will Agri-business and National Interests block Hopes of Sharing Innovative Agricultural Solutions?Agriculture is the direct or indirect livelihood of three quarters of the world's poor, who live in rural areas. The 2008 food crisis and the subsequent global financial crisis, showed the extreme vulnerability of developing countries to fluctuations in food prices and supplies. But the impact was not only on developing world farmers - it affected consumers world-wide in food scarcities, eg rice in Thailand, and higher prices.
In Nov 2008 Egypt - UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) sponsored the first ever international conference on Sharing Innovative Agribusiness Solutions - From Farms to Markets: Providing Know-how and Finance. If the conference activities can be sustained it's an initiative that would potentially benefit small farmers in developing world, consumers everywhere and the planet as a whole. "Our vision is sustainable development" In his opening speech Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, Founder of SEKEM said that Sustainable development could satisfy our needs and aspirations without decreasing the chances for future generations......but that we need to learn the basic principals of ecology. "..... Being ecologically literate means understanding the principles of organisations of ecological communities including our educational com¬munities, political and business communities. So that principles of education, management and politics include the principles of ecology."
A little about SEKEM
In 1977 the economic and social hardship of his countrymen galvanised Social Entrepreneur and medical doctor Dr Abouleish into buying 70 hectares of desert scrubland, 60 km north-east of Cairo and close to the River Nile. He called the new experimental farm there SEKEM - from Ancient Egyptian: "vitality from the sun". SEKEM was able to transform the desert into a showcase example of sustainable agriculture and a healthy ecosystem through biodynamic farming methods. Its efforts in organic cultivation led to the conversion of the entire Egyptian cotton industry to organic methods.
Starting off with a dairy and crop farm,