23-25 April 2019 marked the occurrence of the VII International Agroforum Mare Balticum in Tartu, Estonia. The forum acts as a bridge between the East and West and offers a discussion platform for a different topic each year. The main concept for this year’s discussions was “Agroecology as a driver for sustainable food systems”.
Agroecology is often understood in a number of different ways, from organic production to a modern and sustainable food production system. The world is looking for a new global paradigm in agriculture and food production. While it is clear that large-scale production has its drawbacks, organic production is not able to feed the whole world on its own.
The importance of the topic is stressed by the active engagement of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The FAO has organised two global symposiums on agroecology in 2014 and 2018. A different understanding of agroecology has emerged during these meetings, with nongovernmental organisations seeing it more as organic production while countries with highly developed agriculture like Switzerland and Canada consider it to be more than just organic farming with the inclusion of other sustainable food systems.
The forum in Tartu offered an opportunity to understand the current global situation and see the main interests of various regions, including the agroecological specifics of each region. Discussions also tried to answer the question whether or not the participants see agroecology as something more than just organic farming.
The aim of Agroforum Mare Balticum is to bring together decision-makers from the Baltic Sea region and Eastern Partnership countries to discuss the central issues of strategic development. Agroforum Mare Balticum is special because of its format, where all three layers, i.e. policymakers, research institutions, and entrepreneurs all discuss on the main focal topic.
The conference included plenary sessions and roundtables for different target groups. Further information about Agroforum Mare Balticum, including all the presentations are available at the address http://agroforum.emu.ee.
The VII Agroforum Mare Balticum was organised by the Estonian University of Life Sciences and the Ministry of Rural Affairs together with the Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, the Estonian Rural Development Foundation, the Estonian Center of Eastern Partnership, the Council of the Baltic Sea States and the City of Tartu.