The Living Soils team held a successful Industry Day breakfast last week. The annual Living Soils network breakfast serves as a connection platform for impact, where stakeholders come together to connect, share and learn around regenerative farming. Launched in 2019, the Living Soils Community Learning Farm is an initiative between partners Woolworths, Spier and the Sustainability Institute.
The guest speaker at this year’s breakfast was Shelly Fuller, manager of WWF’s Fruit and Wine programme. She spoke about building back biodiversity into our food value chain, and how each one of us must make the shift from being a consumer to becoming a supporter of pro-Nature initiatives.
The global food system is the number one driver of biodiversity loss, yet farming relies heavily on the services provided by Nature to grow food. For example, in 2019 the cost of pollination in the fruit sector amounted to R141 million, as Cape Honey bees need to be brought in to help with pollination. The World Economic Forum has identified biodiversity loss and climate change as two of the top 10 risks in their Global Risks Report for 2023. WWF’s 2022 Living Planet report indicates that since 1970, Africa has experienced a 66% biodiversity loss. Africa also holds 600 million hectares of uncultivated arable land, which is almost 60% of the global total.
Yet continuing with the status quo when it comes to food production is not the answer if we want to feed 9 billion people by 2050. Farmers and those involved in the food system need to focus on producing while restoring. This is where farms such as the Living Soils Community Learning Farm play an important role. AgroEcological approaches to farming help to restore eco-functions and enhance local biodiversity, and these practices need to be adopted on a widespread basis. Working together in partnership with business, financial institutions, government, the open market and civil society will be vital to help bring this about.
As shared by Shelly, more and more farms are activating pro-Nature practices and value the importance that biodiversity holds. Farmers play a key role in preserving and protecting our ecosystems, and we hope to see more small-scale farms come about to grow the regenerative farming movement.