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USDA Events

Transforming & Scaling up Agricultural Extensionnew window

(Part of Five-day Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development). To feed their families, compete in today’s global marketplace, and conserve natural resources, farmers require a range of extension services that go beyond on-farm assistance to include facilitation of relationships, information sharing, and technology transfer. Electronic extension addresses these needs for a wide range of farmers, while extending reach as extension budgets tighten. The panel highlighted a recent World Bank global study on mobile extension models, followed by presentations on three successful models; mobile, online, and e-courses. Panelists discussed the technologies and the challenges for scale and sustainability. The event was organized by the Farming First Coalition on E-Extension (or ICT), with panelists Dyborn Chibonga, CEO National Association of Smallholder Farmers in Malawi (NASFAM); Bridget Muasa, Kenya, Fellow, AWARD; Luis Prochnow, Director, IPNI Brazil; and Robynne Anderson, UN Representative, World Farmers Organization; and Leonard Mizzi, European Commission.  Greg Crosby presented for USDA.

Pillars of a New Knowledge System for Agriculturenew window

This side event was organized  by the Canadian Federation of Agriculture in partnership with the World Farmers Organization, Global Forum on Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS), and the U.S. Government.  Speakers from the farming, extension, and research communities highlighted important pillars of knowledge sharing such as “best fit” extension models and the use of information and communication technologies such as eXtension (electronic extension).  Speakers included:  John Preissing, FAO, Italy; Kristin Davis, GFRAS, Switzerland; Bridgit Muasa, Deparatment of Veterinary Services, Kenya; and Greg Crosby, USDA.  Farmer discussants included: Matt Linnegar, Australia; Daniela Nascimento, Brazil; Ron Bonnet, Canada; Anette Friis, Denmark; Jean Dorsainvil, Haiti; Rajeev Chauhan, India; and Dyborn Chibonga, Malawi.

Mobilizing Knowledge for Agriculture: Extension Servicesnew window

USDA's Greg Crosby organized, moderated and presented at this event organized with the World Famers’ organization.  The objective was to present best-fit approaches to fuel the global resurgence of extension and rural advisory services for sharing knowledge among some 500 million small holder farmers.  Presenters were Kristin Davis, Director, Global Forum on Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS); Rajeev Chauhan, Himalayan Apple Growers Association, India; Bridgit Mauasa, Veteranarian, Kenya, Fellow, AWARD; and Robynne Anderson, WFO.

Mainstreaming Organic Agriculture as a Means of Implementation

This event was organized by the European Union and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) to highlight the role of organic agriculture in sustainable agricultural development.  Greg Crosby presented for USDA (on behalf of Elise Golan).

Building Markets for Greener Products

At this event, speakers described new partnerships, tools and commitments to build markets for greener products.  These include: the U.S. Government commitment reflected in the Executive Order on Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, the launch of the USDA Digital Data Commons, a new “one stop shop”  built to house data on the full, life-cycle footprint of commodities and products;  perspectives on the role of the private sector in greening supply chains; and new initiatives promoting markets for green products and services through multilateral/multi-stakeholder initiatives including a new UNEP-led Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative and efforts of the UNEP-SETAC product Life Cycle Initiative.  Greg Crosby presented on the Digital Comments for USDA (on behalf of Elise Golan).  Other speakers were from the U.S. EPA, Levi Strauss, Proctor and Gamble, and UN Environmental Program.

Agriculture Knowledge Systems—How can the potential of rural advisory services be mobilized?new window

This learning event was part of the 4th Agriculture and Rural Development Day held in parallel with Rio+20. This event was organized by the World Farmers’ Organization and the Global Forum on Rural Advisory Services.  It responded to recommendation 7 of The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change report Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change-- “ create comprehensive, shared, integrated information systems that encompass human and ecological dimensions.”  The session shared lessons learned and good practices, and identified barriers and solutions to implementing effective extension services. Presenters noted the increasing calls for demand-driven and farmer-led rural advisory services and the use of information and communication technologies (i.e. cell phones) to interact with and deliver science-based practices to small holder farmers. The session emphasized recent CGIAR meta-analysis finding median rates of return at 58% when using advisory service. The session was chaired by Kristin Davis, GFRAS; the rapporteur was Hilda Runsten, Federation of Swedish Farmers. Panelists included: Bob Turnock, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Alberto Sandoval, FAO; Bridgit Musas, Department of Verterinary Services, Kenya, and Greg Crosby, USDA. The discussants included Generosa Silva, Brazil; Rajeev Chauhan, Himalayan Apple Growers Society, India; and Dyborn Chibonga, NASFAM, Malawi.

Broad-Based Agricultural Innovation for Sustainable Productivity Growthnew window

USDA's Elise Golan organized and moderated this event at the U.S. Center.  Its objective was to examine some of the most exciting innovations for sustainable agricultural productivity growth, with the objective of highlighting the breadth of innovative possibilities.  Presenters were Dawn Rittenhouse, Dupont: Climate-tolerant seed innovations; Nati Barak, Chief Sustainability Officer of Netafim, Drip Irrigation System company: Innovative irrigation technologies; Tony Simons, Director General, World Agroforestry Centre:  Innovations in Agroforestry for Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture; Luis Prochnow, International Plant Nutrient Institute, Director for Brazil: Innovations in fertilizer and fertilizer management.

Geography and Spatial Technologies: Empowering Sustainable Futuresnew window

Since 1992 and the first Rio Earth Summit, advances in geospatial and space-based technologies (GIS, remote sensing, and GPS), have advanced geographic concepts, thinking, and visualization. This side event showcased partnerships and technologies invented by the U.S. and shared with the world.  Ppresenters were Douglas Richardson, Executive Director, Association of American Geographers; Carmelle Terborgh, Federal/Global Affairs Team Lead, Esri; Dan Irwin, NASA/SERVIR, and Elise Golan, USDA.

Using Green Agriculture to Stimulate Economic Growth, Attain Food Security and Eradicate Poverty

The objective of this side-event was to raise awareness of the central role that green and sustainable agriculture can play in stimulating economic growth, combating poverty, and ultimately attaining food security. Panelists from a variety of countries shared approaches, best practices and lessons learned.  In addition to the U.S., as represented by Elise Golan, other nations represented were Canada, Germany, Kenya, and Panama.

Bonn Challenge

Elise Golan represented the USDA and the U.S. at the Bonn Challenge press conference and event/reception at the People’s Pavillion. The Bonn Challenge (promoted by the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is a global challenge to restore 150 million hectares of lost forests and degraded lands worldwide by 2020.  Thanks to the efforts of the Forest Service, the U.S. was in the position to make a commitment in Rio to restoring 15 million hectares of U.S. land by 2020.  This was by far the largest commitment to date to the Bonn Challenge, and as a result, the U.S. was given the place of honor at two Bonn Challenge events.   The Bonn Challenge was identified as the top recommended action for heads of state by the civil-society “Forest Day of Dialogue” at Rio+20. 

Global Bioenergy Partnership Seminar Day

The Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) promotes the transition away from the unsustainable, traditional ways of deriving energy from biomass and towards the sustainable production and use of modern bioenergy. The traditional use of biomass, such as burning fuelwood for cooking and heating, drives environmental degradation and damages human health and welfare. Sustainable, modern bioenergy offers a means to improve energy access and to reduce negative effects on human health and the environment. Energy produced sustainably from biomass can play a major role in achieving the goal of “Sustainable Energy for All”. GBEP organized a full-day seminar as an official Rio+20 side event in order to raise awareness about the opportunities related to modern bioenergy development. The seminar fostered discussion of policy options available to ensure the sustainability of this development and featured recent GBEP accomplishments, such as the development and agreement of the 24 Sustainability Indicators for Bioenergy, country experiences with energy from biomass, and indicated concrete ways that GBEP Partners and Observers are working together to build capacity for sustainable bioenergy production and use. Well over 100 people attended the meeting, including government representatives, the private sector and NGOs. The Danish Minister of Energy, Climate and Building, Martin Lidegaard, was a featured speaker. Gerard Ostheimer (USDA/FAS) co-organized the event with GBEP partners, represented USDA at the event and gave a talk titled “Bioenergy for Energy Access, Rural Development and Food Security”.