We have added the conference presentations to the website now:
What a great resource!
We have added the conference presentations to the website now:
What a great resource!
The CAC/Food Summit would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors. Thank you!
By Azara Mohammadi
UAF anthropology student
I am very grateful for the opportunity to attend and participate in the 8th Circumpolar Agricultural Conference, which was only afforded through special funding provided by Chancellor Rogers. At the University of Alaska Fairbanks we are very lucky to have a chancellor who recognizes the importance of sharing ideas across state boarders and actively works to unite the North in an effort to address the common agricultural struggles we face, through the gathering and sharing of information.
As one of the only (if not the only) undergraduate students attending the Circumpolar Agricultural Conference, I was slightly awe-struck at first. Although I read and reread the agenda many time before leaving, I was not prepared for the impact the conference as a whole would have on my understanding of the world. It would be an understatement to say that it was inspiring to meet and speak with individuals from around the world, leaders in their field, who share a common desire to address food security. The privilege of witnessing a part of the process by which decisions about the world are made, is a memory that will stay with me.
As an anthropology student I was very excited to learn about a more holistic approach to food security, which explicitly includes anthropological knowledge and conceptual tools. The emphasis on understanding food as not just food, but a confluence of many of the aspects of human life within a unique ecological zone, was so wonderfully articulated by many presenters.
As an aspiring champion for local agriculture in my own community, I particularly enjoyed when presenters shared their success stories. In most cases, their challenges were far greater than those I am facing in Fairbanks. This left me with a new perspective that at once made be feel that my challenges were not so difficult, relative to those who truly suffer from food insecurity, while at the same time reminding me why it is important to address food security. I left with a renewed sense of purpose and determination, which I attribute to a clearer vision of what achieving my goals promoting local agriculture might actually resemble and look like in action.
BREAK OUT SESSION RESULTS
8th Circumpolar Agriculture Association, UArctic Northern Food Security Thematic Network joint conference, Girdwood, Alaska, USA Sept. 29 – Oct. 3, 2013.
“Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in the Circumpolar North”
Approximately 140 registrants
Break Out Session Question:
If you had the opportunity to send a message to Policy Makers, Governments, Arctic Council, CAA, etc.
what would be your top 3-4 insights including highlights/barriers/opportunities?
Across all Sessions:
Anonymous comments from attendees:
I was particularly interested in community greenhouses so it was good to see some sessions on that.
I have a new understanding of food security issues, impacts and initiatives and potential for progress.
Very good networking and putting faces to names.
Poster sessions were an excellent way to learn in-depth about projects taking place and meet the people who we can collaborate with.
The participation of indigenous people must be a priority in discussions on food security.
The workshop was excellent. I enjoyed learning about the different approaches in improving/building regional food systems.
The opportunity to interact with researchers from across the Arctic was eye opening. The challenges of the future of feeding Arctic peoples goes beyond one country.
The financial assistance provided by the OECD was instrumental in bringing the diversity and range of expertise to this meeting. This meeting could not have happened without their support.
The diversity of backgrounds was fantastic. Even more important was the commonality of the needs from diverse backgrounds.
I’ve been researching food security possibilities with an open mind and came here to get an idea of what I might have overlooked. Now I have a marvelous selection of contacts and resources to work with.
The international panel addressed these questions:
1. What is the main barrier to advancing food security in your country/area of specialization?
2. Your suggestion on how to address this barrier?
3. What is the most promising idea/suggestion to advancing food security in the circumpolar north?
Tom Allen, University of Saskatchewan, Canada:
Food security is a very complex issue. No one is talking about people who are food insecure. Food security is a serious social and health concern in Canada. Almost every province has gone backward since 2005. There is no other subject matter that is as complex as food and it has connections to so many other disciplines. You have to bring people to the table from all jurisdictions. Sasketoon is one of the richest provinces and one in seven children are hungry. We need data-driven research to show how food is connected to health and education. We need to learn how to effectively lobby government. We need a coordinated effort, public and private sectors, universities. We are reaching a tipping point. How high will health care costs go before we realize the importance of food in health? We need to be proactive and give a coordinated message to government.
U.S., Bryce Wrigley, Alaska farmer
There is no food security without a strong, local food system. Processing is a critical component. We need an agency to nourish the local food system until it can stand on its own. We need the university’s support of agricultural research. We need a broader, wider ability to cooperate internationally. We need to elevate food security to the policy level. It is critical to life and happiness.
University of Saskatchewan, Karen Tanino, Canada:
There is a new grant will show the importance of agriculture to everyday life. Why not try to make a very attractive, positive video showing food systems, health, community development are all important? Why not do it from an international perspective? The video could be used throughout the circumpolar north to show the importance of agriculture to the economy and show the importance of research? We can try together as a project to capture that funding and build a video. Maybe we should have an arctic food day where we ask everyone not to eat. This would get media attention.
University of the Arctic Thematic Network lead, Geopolitics, Finland, Lassi Heininen:
There have been discourses on global issues, where is food security? We are not just talking about lack of food but food safety. It is important to be clear on what we mean by food security. We will have discourse with globalization. Food security and food safety are part of human security.
University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Milan Shipka:
One of the difficulties we face is it’s hard for people to conceptualize food security when their stomachs are full. There are several meanings for food security. We have food availability, food affordability, food safety. It’s hard for policymakers when they get a mixed message.
Berndt Skarstad, leader Northern Norwegian Council of Agriculture:
How do you use the arable land? Fish farming is becoming more important in Norway. Food safety is a good argument to produce local food. The customer needs to know where the food is produced. There are very high prices on food in Norway compared to the rest of Europe.
UAF Cooperative Extension Service Agent Darren Snyder:
The threat of business as usual is there. Need a platform within our group. Let’s get our act together more. We need to have our message, our plan, more cohesive. Be clear how we are looking at the whole food/one health idea. We have opportunities to create what would work and go to policymakers with that in mind to strengthen the food system as a while. Create the framework before we ask them.
Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Alaska Food Policy Council, Sitka:
Connect with your media channels and work strategically to get as many stories as you possibly can. Pair the stories with the research and the data. Policy changes when we have really good data but hearts change when people hear stories. This is an opportunity to engage younger people. We have to have a sense of urgency about this. It’s important right now. We don’t have the luxury of a lot of time. Find the right spokespeople. Stretch and connect outside our comfort zones. We don’t have a lot of money but we have spirited people with amazing stories.
UAF Professor Milan Shipka (left) hands off the presidency of the Circumpolar Agricultural Association to Torfi Johannesson, senior advisor, Rural Affairs, Ministry of Industries and Innovation, Iceland Department of Economic Development. Congratulations, Torfi!
CAA website: caa.lbhi.is