Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Regional Conservation Agriculture Symposium
Emperor’s Palace Hotel and Conference Centre, Gauteng
8 February 2011

The Conservation Agriculture (CA) Symposium which takes place on 8-10 February 2011 got off to a good start on Tuesday 8 February. CA is based on a three-pronged approach:

  • Minimum soil disturbance- where crops are planted in “unploughed” soils, thus not “disturbing” the soil in terms of organic matter, top soil loss and soil water loss.
  • Permanent soil cover- crop residues are retained in the field as mulch and/or cover crops are grown throughout the year. The soil is protected and water retention is optimized.
  • Crop associations and rotations- Crops are planted in different associations and rotations with one another in space and over time. This method helps to control pests and diseases and ensures household dietary diversity.

Mr Martin Ager, Conservation Agriculture Regional Working Group (CARWG) welcomed delegates to the symposium. This was followed by remarks from FAO representatives, including Ms Cindy Holleman, who was interviewed on Radio Channel Africa, an SABC programme that focuses on Africa-related initiatives.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) was represented by Mr Klaas Mampholo Ramakgwale who welcomed delegates to the "Rainbow Nation."

This was followed by research papers, presentations and poster sessions. The symposium also incorporated round table discussion and wrap-up sessions. Networking interactions dominated the tea and lunch breaks.

FANRPAN publications complemented marketing collateral, such as banners and folders, created a visible presence at the event. FANRPAN also spearheaded the media component of the symposium and the first day saw widespread media presence:

  • Radio Channel Africa interviewed Ms Cindy Holleman (live) (FAO)
  • Agri TV (SABC 2) interviewed Dr Lewis Hove (live) (FAO)
  • A journalist from DAFF was present and will write a piece for the DAFF newsletter
  • Mr Nico van Burick, a journalist from Landbou Weekblad and a member of the Agricultural Writers Association, was present and may write an article

FANRPAN had a rare opportunity and interviewed Mr Haile from USAID who is the Regional Advisor on Disaster Management and Dr Kanyangarara the Climate Change Advisor from COMESA. Mr Hale, amongst others, spoke about the role of CA and gave examples of some of the success stories he knows in Africa and the USA. Dr Kanyangarara advised all stakeholders involved in CA to come on board and support all CA initiatives.

Delegates had an opportunity to ask questions after each and every presentation. This contributed to the objectives of the symposium which were to share information and exchange ideas on CA. Delegates would then break into discussion groups and come up with recommendations on the topics under discussions. For instance, weed control in CA was a topic for discussion on the second day. Different suggestions came through, including not relying on chemicals and hand ploughing only, but also on indigenous knowledge to control weeds. This would be included in the synthesis report of the symposium.

The symposium received widespread media coverage.
Media coverage:
The CA Symposium received favourable media coverage as follows:

  • A live TV interview- Mr Lewis Hove (FAO) – Agri-TV (SABC 2)
  • A live radio interview- Ms Cindy Holleman- Radio Channel Africa (SABC Radio)
  • A journalist from Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) was present for all three days and he will write a report for the DAFF newsletter
  • A member of the South African Writers’ Association was present and undertook to write an article
  • Radio interview- The CEO of FANRPAN, Dr Lindiwe Sibanda, was interviewed by Radio Channel Africa
  • Ms Cindy Holleman and Dr Lindiwe Sibanda were interviewed by Business Report, an INL national publication
  • Steve Twomlow and Mr Christian Thierfelder from CIMMYT were interviewed on Radio Channel Africa
  • Prof Lloyd Chingambo, was interviewed by Radio Channel Africa.
  • FANRPAN conducted video interviews with:
    • Mr Hale from USAID, Regional Advisor on Disaster Management
    • Dr Kanyangarara, the Climate Change Advisor from COMESA

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