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Agriculture and food production in harmony with nature: healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people

A vision for every farm: to thrive in harmony with nature; the vision for everybody: access to healthy and climate friendly food every day.

Photo of Daniel Baertschi
9 5

Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

Agricultura Regeneratio, Association for Regenerative Agriculture, Switzerland. We are an umbrella organisation.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small NGO (under 50 employees)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.agricultura-regeneratio.org

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • Under 1 year

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Basel

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Switzerland

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The European country of Switzerland with 41'000 km^2, mountainous and with diverse landscape, elevation 192 - 4633 meters above sea level.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Switzerland

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I live there and know the country very well, as i have worked for national organisations like the umbrella NGO for organic farmers. It is one of the most sustainable countries in the world, but agriculture is limited in many areas due to climate, topography, land use by other sectors and population growth that requires more area for buildings. Switzerland has been on the forefront in the organic agriculture movement, and we have several strong institutions in this area. It has some wold class research institutions for food and agriculture, like FiBL, Agroscope, Nestlé Reseach Center Lausanne, EPFL Lausanne, ETH Zurich etc.

I grew up on a pioneer farm going organic in 1970. Later, I was head of the organic umbrella organisation in Switzerland, Bio Suisse. I have a deep knowledge of the Swiss agrifood sector and its main actors and influencers. I have good connections to the main actors in the system.

We want to close the gap between farmers and consumers and create a common understanding about the best way to produce, distribute and consume food.


Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Highly developed country with few natural resources and a diverse society. There are 4 official languages and also different immigrant minorities. Urban population is about 60%. Switzerland has an excellent, thriving economy based on innovation (No. 1 worldwide), education, and as trong economy with global players like Nestlé, Roche, Novartis, Glencore among others. High value products are the niche Swiss companies cover best.

People like to eat locally produced food, but 50% of food has to be imported. It is one of the highest price level for food we have, but farmers lack sufficient income, as the retail industry is very strong, putting pressure on farm gate prices. We have a very well developed education system and policy is developed in a very democratic, decentralised way. 

People look more and more for healthy and organic food, average spending for organic is over 300 US$ per capita per year, highest globally. The typical food is based on meat, vegetables and potatoes, pasta and cheese. In the last decade, there has been a growing vegetarian/vegan movement, and there is more diversitiy in the food sector, also due to a large number of immigrants from all corners of the world. Swiss people travel a lot and want to taste food they discovered abroad also at home.

The poulation is well educated, the country has a low unempoyment rate, and a decentralized government structure allows people to travel easily by roads, trains, bus, bike to work, school etc. People are usualy looking for a good job and salary, willing to continue education and to adapt to new technologies.

We have a direct democracy that strengtens communities. The political system is very balanced and stable. Political parties have to collaborate and find compromises to make decisions. Switzerland has a long humanitarian tradition with the red cross and many other organisations, and Geneva is a hub for the UN System.

There is a well developed health sector, Switzerland is 2nd behind US in health expenditures per capita. Food related illnesses like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases etc.  are increasing, due to lack of time to prepare good food, eating overprocessed food and too much fat/sugar/alcool consumption.

Farmers are mostly small scale, average farm size is little over 21 hectares. Main products are dairy products and meat, where we are self sufficient; cereals, potatoes, vegetables, wine, sugar beet etc. Farmers are supported by the government with direct payments to supplement  the low market price/value of their products. Costs for farm input are very high, especially machinery and ferilizer. 

Switzerland has 15% organic farms, which is due to a good market for organic products. Organic farmers are more marked oriented. The main retailers have emphasized organic in their marketing campaigns. There are  - besides organic - more that 30 food labels in the market, competing with each other. The market is dominated by big corposartions, putting pressure on farm gate prices. Some farms do direct sales, but this is only feasible for about 5% of all farms.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)

41000

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

8500000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Environment:

2020: High use of pesticides and chemical fertilizer, too high meat and sugar consumption, thriving economy, high immigration rate, digitalisation with uncertain effect for labour force, democratic and balanced policy system.

2050: In future: loss of fertile soil, farmers abandoning their farm due to low salaries, too much consumption of highly processed and insufficient nutritious food, diversity of society is growing, disconnect of some people from society due to poverty will become more important, personalised food, traceability of food, inner quality, access to information about food production.

Diets:

2020: too many labels create confusion, and there is not sufficient transparency about production methods. People eat not enough vegetables, but too much sugar, fat, processed food and have not a clear view on relationship between food and health.

2050: We will face a lack of arable land, farmers will be depending on government support to exist, food is mainly imported and no longer produced locally except some key products. Lack of healthy soil, climate change efffects leading to instable harvests. People see agriculture mainly as a folcloristic tradition for tourists, but the food is not produced on farms, but in factories wit himported commodities. Animals are not present on farms anymore due to a strict regulation about health and sanitation that bans farm animals from nature.

Culture:

2020: diverse, easy accessible cultural system

2050: not much change, but culture will be much more tought in the education system.

Technology:

2020: high application of technology, less and less hand labour needed. Still, there is a view that technology has to serve people.

2050: Digitalisation is used everywhere and people depend heavily on technology. A lack of understanding for a good food system, but people want to go to nature for recreation and leisure activities. A growing conflict between farm/rural people and urban people leads to pressure on farmers to avoud treatments or manure spreading. 

Policy:

2020: Independent as much as possible, diverse, stable and decentralized political system, usually good solutions to problems.

2050: still not member of EU, and not much change in the system.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

We will bring together farmers, processors, traders, consumers, civil society and policy makers to jointly develop a balanced and regenerative agrifood system, with focus on training, education, connecting people, creating awareness, building trust and being able to positively influence society. We are using modern digital toos like blockchain to increase traceability and transparency without having to rely on third party certification. IoT will be used on farm level to help farmers to make better decision based on AI and machine learning. A platform will allow farmers to increase income and satisfaction. Carbon sequestration will be paid by carbon credits to motivate farmers to increase soil organic matter.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

A very diverse landscape attractive to live in and to visit, with thriving farms and abundant food production based on deep understanding of nature and natural function. Farmers will be in close connection with the general poulation and run farm stores, deliver food directly to consumers, and build an own community of fans and supporters. People will have access to the farm all year long and see their food grow.

People will live in good harmony with nature, have a balanced diet, eat healthy food without chemical residues and the environment will thrive with increased biodiversity. There will be no chemical pesticides used and no nitrogen fertilizer applied. Some consumers will be supplied with fresh food by drones within minutes from the harvest of fresh vegetables for example. Real time agronomic information will be in the hands of farmers and if they agree to all other persons interested. Data connection will allow better decision making and learning will be supported by remote access to a broad range of courses, workshops and coaching.

Farm subsidies from the government are going to support innovation and labour rather that be based on size or area of the farm. Innovation funds will allow farms to try new ideas without having the burden to carry the risk associated. Training will be live and on-time and access to information fully automated, so that farmers can get the right information just in time when tehy need it.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Vision

A vision for every farm: to thrive in harmony with nature; the vision for everybody: access to healthy and climate friendly food every day.

Environment:

Soils will be regenerated by applying the following principles: minimum soil disturbance by limiting tillage, pesticides and nitrogen fertilizer. Applying compost produced by organic waste from the farm and the consumers. Soils will have more tha 5% organic matter, store much more water, be less prone to erosion, and have abundant soil life. Biodiversity is growing everywhere. Drinking water sourced from ground water will need no purification. Due to regenerative methods, farm will be climate positive by increasing soil organic matter and thus bring carbon back in soil from the atmosphere.

Diets:

Diets will be based mainly on locally/regionally available plants like potatoes, salads, legumes etc. available seasonally. Meat consumption will be at 15 kg/year level, based on pasture raised free range beef, pork, chicken, sheep, goats, rabbits and local fish.

Health cost will decrease by 50% due to balanced diet and real time information about health benefit of specific foods. Full transparency for inner value of food will be accessible by everybody. Food systems will be circular  and food waste reduced by 75%. The rest will be reused as feed for pork.

Economics:

Farm will be able to function in harmony with nature while producing healthy food on healthy soil in diverse ecosystem. High tech machinery with low weight and maximum automation will assist in heavy labour like weeding or planting. Farms will have access to digital distribution platforms, allowing them to decrease transaction costs. We will have 40’000 farms with a sufficient economic foundation for a family.

Culture:

Culture will be strong, diverse and relevant to all people in the system. Food will be rediscovered and valued much more and be understood as a gift from nature. Boundaries will be removed between cities and countryside by bringing together people as a community on the farms. The national holiday 1st august will be the “Open Farm Day” where all farm can be visited and a direct contact between farmers families and consumers will be made easy.

Technology:

Technology will serve farmers and consumers in information sharing and access to each other. Farm sensors wil assist farmers to make better decision by monitoring natural processes. Transactions of food will be supported by lockchain technology to provide full transparency on origin, processing methods, animal welfare and distribution channels.

 

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Attachments (6)

Sb_jan_2020_p2.jpg

two examples of thriving regenerative farms

frame (1).png

digital tools will help in decisin making etc.

Grafik erklären.png

Regenerative Food System: our vision

SB Interview 27_11_19.jpg

Interview with main agri newspaper about our new association

SB 27_11_19.jpg

Report in main agri newspaper

9 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Koldun Victor
Team

"We will bring together farmers, processors, traders, consumers, civil society and policy makers to jointly develop a balanced and regenerative agrifood system, with focus on training, education, connecting people, creating awareness, building trust and being able to positively influence society." === Will they listen to you?

Spam
Photo of Daniel Baertschi
Team

Yes because there is evidence from my experience in the organic sector

Spam
Photo of Daniel Baertschi
Team

The generations Y and Z will not only listen, but actively support the movement

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