Access to fresh, affordable, nourishing, locally produced and culturally appropriate food (as well as the fuel to cook it and time to prepare it) should be the guaranteed right of every individual and household. However, global food systems are increasingly dominated by an ‘industrial diet’ where highly processed and low nutrient foods are widely available and most easily accessible. Many countries, including the UK, have shameful levels of food insecurity and diet-related ill health, and too many supposed solutions rely on the charity of the very businesses and government policies that are responsible for the problems in the first place.
In this session, organised by the Landworkers’ Alliance and La Via Campesina, an international panel discusses how the solutions to hunger need to be systemic and focused on meeting the needs of people rather than lining the pockets of corporations. How food producers and communities are organizing and fighting back to take control of their food systems and ensure everyone has access to good food at all times.
Join organisers at the forefront of sustainable, grassroots and radical initiatives to hear why food aid, at a local and international level, undermines food justice and perpetuates the causes of hunger. Also, to learn more about their powerful community led solutions tackling household food insecurity and hunger.
The Food, Farming Countryside Commission is launching new research looking at how future farming systems based on agroecological principles could be feasible for UK nations – removing the need for artificial inputs whilst producing healthy food to feed a growing population, contributing to net zero targets and making more space to restore nature.
In this session, the panellists will explore some of the details of this research, and talk about the questions that it opens up for the future. The research builds on work, carried out by IDDRI at a European level, that was introduced by FFCC and Soil Association at the last ORFC.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
Hear from three farmers who have adapted and innovated to ensure their livestock enterprises survive beyond subsidy by getting to grips with their financial management, optimising forage utilisation and responding to market demand.
Many livestock enterprises in the UK have been reliant on income from the Basic Payment System under the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) to improve their farm business turnover. This session considers novel ways for livestock to support a farm business’ provision of public goods and explore ways to enhance productivity and improve viability.
Collaboration is key to future farming success and our panel of farmers will share what they have done to adapt and model their businesses in order to be flexible and take advantage of opportunities such as flying flock grazing. Also how they have embraced technology and the value of data in decision making.
In particular, this workshop is based around the experience of one farmer who went through a thorough review of performance, informed and underpinned by their participation in The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme. We also draw on the knowledge gained by the Soil Association’s involvement in the Defra-funded Future Farming Resilience pilots.
At last year’s World Food Day, UN Secretary General António Guterres announced that he would convene a UN Food Systems Summit in the fall of 2021. Little did anyone know that the stakes would become so acute so fast. The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly become a hunger crisis. At this moment of upheaval, what gets decided in the next few years will determine the path for global food governance for decades to come. Guterres‘s goal is to host an event that will push the world to transform food systems with a particular emphasis on eliminating hunger and malnutrition. But to over 500 peasant-led social movements, food worker unions, and human rights activists, the UN Secretary General’s call reflected an attempt by the private sector to take over global food politics. These claims were not unfounded
The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food will discuss the different visions surrounding food systems: namely agroecology versus “sustainable intensive agriculture” and the international political landscape around those visions. He will describe the unfortunately marginal role that human rights have played during the Summit preparation so far. And he will outline why he thinks people at the Oxford Real Farming Conference can make a difference and how they may use their collective power to change the world’s food systems.
Africa faces multiple challenges related to our food systems, including hunger, malnutrition, obesity, noncommunicable diseases, the climate crisis, environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, cultural erosion, and other climate related shocks, such as pest and disease outbreaks and escalating prices of external inputs. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the weaknesses of current food systems to meet the needs of African peoples.
These interconnected challenges demand a holistic response, with African civil society and institutions working together to develop African solutions to meet African needs, addressing the gaps and inconsistencies in current frameworks and exploiting the potential of innovative ideas and approaches.
This session will bring key actors and thinkers from across Africa to debate on the current status of the food system in their part of the continent and suggest solutions to address the challenges.
Biodiversity is critical to sustainable farming. Evidence from long-term field experiments (50 – 170 years) suggest that the central relationship between microbes, organic carbon and soil structure determines soil system performance. Detailed work at Rothamsted led by Prof. Andrew Neal is demonstrating the strong relationship between organic carbon, structure and the hydrodynamic behaviour of soil. Among other sources, farmyard manure plays an important role in managing soil systems. The experiments also demonstrate significantly higher levels of organic matter/carbon under grass – with the associated benefits of increased soil porosity and hydraulic conductivity.
Dr Felicity Crotty is researching the implications of land use on the soil food web for its biodiversity and its relationship to soil health in both arable and livestock systems. Her current research involves the monitoring of earthworms as the emblem of soil health and seeking to identify linkages between healthy soil and healthy food.
Since time immemorial, farmers have recognised the vital role that grazed pasture plays in rebuilding the health and fertility of the soil following the disruption caused by cultivation. As researchers continue to understand and explain why, Prof Neal and Dr Crotty will share their recent findings.
ADVANCE REGISTRATION REQUIRED. LIMITED SPACES: 500
This interactive session is aimed at anyone interested in strengthening agroecology, especially farmers, activists, donors/funders, researchers and policy makers.
Agroecology promotes radical transformation of food and agriculture based on ecological principles, guided by visions of justice and led by farmers and citizens. It is increasingly embraced as a response to converging socio-ecological crises. However, almost all funding continues to flow to projects that undermine agroecology and strengthens the global, industrial farming system, despite widespread agreement that it is an engine of pollution, climate change and zoonotic spillover.
Existing ways of financing projects and organisations are not suited to support radical agroecological change on the ground. In this interactive session, we will discuss what shifts can be made in private, philanthropic and public financing to effectively realise the transformative potential of agroecology.
Staggeringly, “humanity has wiped out 68% of global wildlife since 1970”, according to the WWF (2020). If that stat wasn’t terrifying enough, it's also been concluded that the annual rate of destruction is increasing. In other words, the eradication of the remaining 32% of global wildlife is speeding up! And the biggest cause cited is agriculture.
Urgent action is needed, and a growing number of voices in international conservation are demanding that humanity should retreat back, returning land to nature to create more wilderness. Today the most common narrative in western conservation is that ‘humanity is systematically destructive, so we need to protect areas from our harm.’
However, regenerative farmer Rebecca Hosking believes this separation argument is too simplistic. Rebecca is keen to show that humans can be a force for good, if only we remember how. As she says, “we can see the rest of life as something to control, or see it as something to protect. In both cases, humans are placed separate from all other species, and therein lies the inherent problem.”
Too much investment flowing into agriculture is perverse – shoring up inequitable food systems that grow an ever narrower range of foods and exacerbate climate change. Massive public and private investments in agroecological food systems and agroecological movements are urgently needed – investments that align with agroecological principles and don't serve to greenwash investor portfolios. This session will explore why and how philanthropies and bilateral and multilateral development agencies invest in agroecology, both the challenges and opportunities.