Strengthening the soil structure with microorganisms, using plant covers, betting on aquaculture and plant genetic improvement or planting fruit trees and vegetables in parks and roundabouts are just some of the agronomic solutions proposed for 2050 at the Youth Ag-Summit. This has been explained to Efeagro by the two young Spanish women who have participated in the second edition of this international summit that, held in Canberra (Australia) between August 24 and 28, has focused on seeking solutions to the main agronomic problems of the year 2050.
The forecasts of the United Nations Organization (UN) suggest that the world will have 9,000 million inhabitants in 2050 - compared to more than 7,000 today - but the farmland and available resources will be scarcer than in any other moment of history. With these data, there are already many international forums in which the changes that the agriculture of the future must necessarily adopt to feed a hungry planet are debated.
To this end, the Youth Ag-Summit brought together 100 future agricultural leaders in Canberra, including the Spanish Laura Teresa Checa, 22, and María Gloria Sáenz, 23. Both Checa, a student of Engineering and Agronomic Science at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, and Sáenz, a graduate in Agricultural Engineering from the University of La Rioja, had to write an essay and compete with other 2,000 applicants, between 18 and 25 years old and from from 33 countries, to be part of the summit.
“In my case”, Sáenz explained to Efeagro, “I decided to focus on the soil, which is very affected in Spain by degradation, to approach it from three different approaches: erosion, because most of our soils are poor; desertification, because 37% of the surface of our country is affected by this phenomenon; and urbanization, because they are cultivated soils that are lost ”.
As solutions, he proposes "to return to a more sustainable agriculture, recycle waste from nearby industries to use them as biomass in the field, use plant covers and strengthen the soil structure with microorganisms, among other things.
For his part, Checa preferred to give shape to his essay addressing, instead of a single topic, different aspects of agronomy, such as “the problem of generational change between farmers or the disconnection of the consumer with the field and with the work carried out to produce food, which prevents the products from being properly valued ”.
One way to solve these problems would be, according to Checa, by “betting on aquaculture and the genetic improvement of plant species, promoting education in schools and promoting urban agriculture, taking a step further, replacing the ornamental vegetation of parks with fruit trees. and vegetables ”.
The aforementioned summit gave the 100 young participants the opportunity to share ideas in work sessions, attend inspirational presentations from professionals in the sector and learn about different agricultural practices.
"In the morning we attended talks and in the afternoon we debated in groups about the 15 topics most covered in our essays, from which we finally chose the five that we consider most important to try to achieve the goal set," said Checa.
These five themes, according to Sáenz, were structured in “Education and development of skills among farmers, communication of the value of agriculture among the population, responsible consumption by society, research and development, and search for leaders capable of championing the agriculture of the future ”.
The conclusions reached at the summit will be reflected in the "Canberra Declaration" and will be presented to the UN Food Security Committee in Rome, between October 12 and 15.
The two young Spanish women agree that this experience, jointly organized by Bayer CropScience and Future Farmers Network (FFN), "has been incredible and tremendously enriching."