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Sustainable food production discussed at the soil conference

5. October 2017 - 10:04
Minister of Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm.
Minister of Rural Affairs Tarmo Tamm. Photo: Kertu Kärk.

The high-level conference “Soil for sustainable food production and ecosystem services” is held today, on 5 October at the Tallinn Creative Hub (Kultuurikatel) as part of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU. During the conference, leading experts in the field will be discussing issues related to sustainable food production.

The Estonian Presidency will bring the conclusions of the conference to the meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council in November. The international conference will be opened at 9 am by the President of the Republic of Estonia, Kersti Kaljulaid, and the Estonian Minister of Rural Affairs of Estonia, Tarmo Tamm. The European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, will also participate at the conference.

According to the Estonian Minister of Rural Affairs, Tarmo Tamm, agricultural soils are often degraded in an invisible way due to management practices, which are not suitable for specific conditions. “This is why the sustainability of agricultural soils is of key importance to European agriculture. With the sustainable management of agricultural soils we are ensuring high-quality food for ourselves and preserving our surrounding environment. We will bring the conclusions and suggestions from the conference to the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting in November,” Minister Tamm stressed.

It is estimated that the global population will have increased to 9 billion by the year 2050 and that compared to today, 70% more food will be needed to feed them. At the same time, we are losing 3 km2 of soil, one of the main resources for food production, in Europe every day. Currently the European Union does not have a common soil policy, which is why Estonia as a Presidency has gathered the leading experts of the field in Tallinn to discuss the sustainable use of soils.

In order to ensure the preservation of soils, we need broad-based discussions on the condition of soils. The International Union of Soil Sciences has also proclaimed the International Decade of Soils (2015–2024), which sets the conference held during the Estonian Presidency in a wider context.

Around 200 participants and 18 presenters from all across the EU are coming to Tallinn to take part in the conference. High-level policy-makers, experts, and representatives of international organisations, including the European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, will be taking part in the presentations and discussions. The conference moderator is Professor Klaus Töpfer. The presentations will cover soils and legislation, soils’ relationship to climate change, technological solutions, and raising awareness.

After the presentations, there will be a panel discussion on “The perspectives of the EU and national policy to achieve sustainable use of agricultural soils.” The participants include Jannes Maes, President of CEJA, Alexandru Potor, State Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Affairs of Romania, Pierre Schwartz, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture of France, Ronald Vargas, representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, and Marko Gorban, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Rural Affairs of Estonia.

The conference is held by the Ministry of Rural Affairs of Estonia in cooperation with the Estonian University of Life Sciences.

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