FAO experience at the Coopérative des Agriculteurs de la Mayenne annual exhibit

This blog post was written by Dorian Kalamvrezos Navarro, Trade and Markets Division, FAO.

I was invited as FAO speaker at Les Camélies, the annual exhibit of CAM – Coopérative des Agriculteurs de la Mayenne- held on 9, 10 and 12 June in the town of Laval, France. CAM is a cooperative with more than 600 employees and 4500 active members, making it one of the biggest actors of its sector in the Mayenne region.

After my arrival in Laval on Saturday evening, the organizers picked me up the next morning and we drove to the site of the exhibit. Titled ‘The Plate is in the Meadow’, this year’s exhibit aimed not only to showcase the cooperative’s usual supporting services for its members, but also to highlight its contribution to sustainable development. 

As the UN agency facilitating the implementation of the International Year of Pulses (IYP) 2016, FAO was invited to the exhibit in consideration of its contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the site, Mr Ivan Leclerc - President of CAM - received me and took me on a detailed tour of the various stands, reflecting the cooperative’s main activities and areas of focus. The Sustainable Development gazebo quickly sparked my interest. It contained information on the cooperative’s various activities such as recycling, renewables, waste management, and even COP21. Other interesting gazeebos dealt with animal nutrition and chemical analysis of soils. 

From Mr Leclerc’s descriptions, I gathered that CAM is heavily investing in precision agriculture as a way to attain sustainability. The aim is to produce more with less, through research and development. It is possible to feed animals with the most efficient mix of amino acids, for example, or to connect tractors with satellite technology in order to programme the optimal application of seeds and fertilizers for a particular tract of land based on its specific ecological attributes. 

Moving to the issue of pulses, Mr Leclerc reported that CAM has also invested in research and experimentation on the best crop rotation practices, which are also location-specific. In fact, at the far end of the exhibit site, there was a tract of land planted with various slices of grasses and legumes, clearly conveying this idea. That area, he said, focused on alfalfa and certain varieties of clover, in light of their nitrogen-fixing abilities and easy usage as feed.

My speech started at 11:00 in a large gazeebo specifically set up for this purpose. Despite the rainy conditions, which had apparently discouraged attendance at the exhibit, the event was well attended and the gazeebo almost full. The audience mainly consisted of farmers, which were members of the cooperative. In my intervention, which lasted approximately 45 minutes, I described the work of FAO in general terms, presented the general IYP objectives, and linked them to the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I then moved on to examine analytically the contributions of pulses to nutrition, health, biodiversity, climate change and food security, illustrating the main points with key facts and figures. 

At the end of my presentation, I received a couple of questions on other activities that FAO is undertaking to implement the IYP. I summarized the main activities, including the regional and global dialogues, the nutrition database, the world pulses economy report, and other research papers in the pipeline. Furthermore, I explained the role of the recently appointed special ambassadors.

I was positively impressed by the level of sophistication of CAM’s activities, the sense of personal care and stewardship of the land conveyed by its members, as well as their awareness of global sustainable development processes. I hope that I was able to transmit both the main messages and the spirit of the IYP, thus encouraging them to expand the production and consumption of pulses.

The views expressed here belong to the speaker and do not necessarily represent FAO’s views, positions, strategies or opinions.


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