15th International Student Summit

21 October 2015

Rui Catarion

Agricultural students from across the globe gathered at the 15th International Student Summit held at Tokyo University of Agriculture (NODAI) at the beginning of October to discuss: Innovative Approaches to Build Local Resilience and Promote Awareness to Global Challenges".

PhD student, Rui Catarino represented the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, presenting his work on farmers' resilience when adopting GM crops. Commenting on his experience and time spent at the summit he said: "It was a fantastic opportunity to meet fellow colleagues from all over the world that are developing brilliant projects/approaches in perhaps the most important challenge that humanity is presently facing, which will have an impact not only in developing countries but as well in developed countries: the sustainability of agriculture.

Rui went on to explain the purpose and mounting importance surrounding such summits: "The main aim of the summit is to promote awareness, wisdom and vitality among the next generation in order to face the contemporaneous global sustainability crisis. This is vital as agricultural systems play a key role in assessing the fundamental problems in food production, consumption and safety, the stage of economic development, environmental conservation, energy, and human health. So it is imperative to hear and get agricultural students from the four corners of the planet involved. Hence sharing important insights on how agriculture and food systems should be organized and maintained in each society."

This year the summit was divided into four sessions:

  1. Students' Actions in the Field of Food Security
  2. Students' Actions in the Field of Agriculture
  3. Students' Actions in the Field of Education
  4. Students' Actions in the Field of Community Development

Rui Catarino presenting

Rui, presented his work around the benefits and possible secondary impacts of using Insect resistant plants in agriculture, in particular the results obtained in his most recent paper, in press in Ecosphere, which is part of this PhD studies.

Presentations throughout the summit focused on student's work on how to improve farmers' resilience given the agricultural contemporaneous panorama. The topic vary widely, from enhancing food security and sustainability via urban farming or by improving soil quality with an innovative Eco-Friendly Materials, up to how to influence people's perception of new foods, such as Insect consumption as an alternative source of protein. The importance of new technologies that farmers may have at disposal to increase farm productivity with a minimum use of input and externalities generation was not forgotten.

Delegates debated on how the public could be driven to make more informed and conscious food decisions and the need to develop partnerships between local community, policy makers and stakeholders. As well as discussing how to share and present information surrounding food security challenges with local communities, recognizing the fact that education promotes action which is vital in this context.

Discussion panel

All these issues play a preponderant role due to the need of increasing food production within a limited agricultural space, which relates directly to the high global population growth index. Hence the presentations featuring the student's ideas as to what should be done in order to provide cheaper access to food while conserving natural resources. Agricultural resilience is vital in order to cope or adapt within a world that is facing rapid and drastic modifications, both locally and globally. To focus on only traditional or local agricultural techniques may be part of the solution, however new technologies cannot be disregarded.

By Rui Catarion, PhD Agricultural Economics Student.

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