Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back to the Ground

After a longer time I am back to my blogger keyboard writing down some things that were in my head for a longer time. Now it is time to "digitalize" them...

There was an event organized by the Centre of Development Research called Soil health: Pathways to well-being in developing countries. It was held on 16th June, the advent of the World Day to combat desertification. This time I knew that I want to write down my thoughts to this blog, so I took a paper to make some more sophisticated notes, not to end up like during the waste management presentation.

This time the discussion was somewhat closer to my field of animal breeding, but the main focus was on the soil. Still, it was interesting to hear some new things. The first new info I got right with the second sentence of the opening speech. This was that desertification is not connected to expansion of existing deserts. For me the meaning was exactly this: desertification = desert expansion. Instead of "my" definition desertification means degradation of soil because of human acivities such as overexploitation, overgrazing, an inappropriate use, as well as climate change.

You can get a crash course on the meaning of inappropriate use by watching the video Killing Fields - the battle to feed factory farms. These issues (not only in South America) are of big importance. Saying it shortly: approx. 25% of Worlds surface is endangered by desertification, directly affecting lives of cca. 200 million people.

There was also a link to the International Year of Biodiversity. As it was pointed out during the discussion the soil "produces" and "sustains" biodiversity. Thinking about it this way, it is true... The whole agriculture is connected to the soil. For the plants it is obvious, but also the ruminants relying on pastures and the monogastric animals on the feed that was produced there. Also carnivores are connected to it through their prey. Without soil there are no herbivores, no carnivores, no people...

The second part of the discussion event resulted into a more general discussion about development research and the importance of the participatory approach with local people.

If you have doubts what development research means then I have two (self made) definitions for you.

The first one is the plain explanation: Research done in developing countries on almost any issue.

The second explanation is more complicated, I will illustrate it with a methaphor. I like to think about development research as a big puzzle game containing social sciences, water and waste management, all possible branches of agriculture and some more things I am not aware of. Now you have this big puzzle... You don't know how many pieces are in total or how or where to find them. And the goal is it put the picture together.

There are people who are committed for the search. As for me, I believe I have found on more piece during that evening.