A large number of GIZ-projects support sustainable agriculture globally – at the same time the topic´s relevance increases in Germany. This is directly connected with plant health, which goes beyond of just applying pesticides in line with good agricultural practices. Healthy plants need a healthy environment, therefore the United Nations General Assembly declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health. Thus, why not discussing good practices in this regard publicly?
Two German organisations, DLG (Deutsche Landwirtschafts-Gesellschaft) and GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit), take joint efforts to initiate such an expert panel. DLG addresses the vast majority of decision makers in practice, science, administration, and extension service via huge trade fair shows. GIZ implements development cooperation projects mostly on behalf of the German Federal Government worldwide; agricultural projects play an important role among the entire portfolio. Moreover, both organisations have been cooperating closely for decades. Additionally, since 2018, an expert advisor for development cooperation, known by the German title EZ-Scout, has been working at DLG on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Indeed, this seems to be the best precondition to utilise both networks for making such an exchange happen. Thomas König (EZ-Scout at DLG), Berthold Wohlleber (Sector project Sustainable Agriculture, NAREN, GIZ) and Klaus Erdle (DLG) identified and connected experts from Germany and two GIZ projects. Tahina Raharison, Groupement Semis Direct de Madagascar (GSDM), an NGO-Partner of a GIZ-project in Madagascar, and Stephan Jung, extension service officer at the Agriculture Chamber of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, discuss organic farming and agroecology, particularly how farmers cope with an increasing number of drought events in their respective countries. In addition to that Tahina highlights and explains where agroforest-systems in Madagascar help increasing nature´s resilience and supporting local people´s livelihood. A similar exchange has been conducted between Ulrich Quendt, extension service officer in the Federal State of Hessen, Germany, and Abdoul Karim Mien, GIZ-project in Benin; they provide insights in why and how legumes are cultivated in both countries.
Both talks are recorded and accessible in a digital format at the DLG-event Feldtage Digital (www.dlg-feldtage.de) starting from June 16th 2020 until end of August (legumes in German, organic farming in English). The experts involved assessed this new format as a success and conclude: despite specific local circumstances, overall questions and challenges are comparable and therefore an exchange across continents is useful and could potentially release a pulse for local actions, wherever it might be.