On October 17, an international symposium was held in Paris to explore issues related to agro-ecology. Organized by the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), the symposium brought together experts in research, training, and agricultural innovation, as well as technical institutes and stakeholders in agricultural development. At the event, Stéphane Le Foll, French Minister for Agriculture, Food Industry, and Forestry, emphasized the importance of agro-ecology in France’s future agricultural policies.
In developing its 2010-2020 strategy, INRA has made agro-ecology, an emerging field of research and innovation, a top priority. Today, agro-ecology, which seeks to apply ecological tools to agronomic systems, is considered one of the most promising ways to ensure that agricultural systems respond adequately to the food and non-food needs of tomorrow, while reconciling competition and respect for the environment.
During the conference, Stéphane Le Foll expressed his view that the organization of this meeting was a crucial step forward in positioning research and development at the heart of the agro-ecological project. The meeting would contribute to the building of the necessary scientific basis, thus allowing for the diffusion of practices and methods combining ecological and economical performances.
The Minister aims to increase the pace of the farming industry’s transition to agro-ecological methods. The objective is to engage at least half of French farms to begin the path of “double performance” — ecological and economical. Two main policies will help achieve this goal: the Groups of Environmental and Economic Interest status, which promote local development projects with environmental benefits, and the agro-environmental measures included in the new Common Agricultural Policy.
Stéphane Le Foll asked stakeholders to work together in the aim of proposing a January 2014 roadmap for the implementation of agro-ecology in France’s different agricultural sectors, thereby setting out national and regional goals to be achieved by 2025. He emphasized the need for commitment from all agricultural actors. These goals cannot be reached without a clear redirection of agricultural counseling and rural development towards the principles of agro-ecology.
The Minister concluded that local commitment and cooperation are the DNA of agro-ecology. He expressed his pride in sight of the past year’s work in building the foundations of a renewed agricultural model.