Working with the living world

Farmers top the bill

The current interest in agriculture is very tangible, as shown by the success of the movie “Nous, paysans” broadcast on France 2 on February 23rd : it took 21.1% of audience viewing representing more than five million viewers.

At the same time, Xavier Niel announced the creation of a free “agro-campus”, an Agri-Food Campus France initiative, set in 600 hectares, to accommodate 2,000 people and train them in agricultural professions, all of which are based on the Station F business model. This initiative has stirred up emotions and has not been without controversy.

Farmers, men and women, are ageing, and now number a mere 400,000, representing just 1.5% of total employment in France.

Worldwide, we are now eight billion and the number is constantly increasing. This rapid growth could only be achieved by drawing heavily on oil resources to boost agricultural production with the help of chemicals and machinery.

The agriculture and food sector accounts for about 25% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It is one of the main causes of climate change and one of its first victims due to the droughts and floods resulting from this change.

The situation is worrisome. The very few remaining farmers have a huge responsibility to keep on feeding us. At the same time, they must drastically reduce the use of chemicals and machinery, the only factors that have allowed them to do so in such small numbers. The pressure on them is huge.

This statement is increasingly well known and shared.

What if agriculture could provide solutions?

What is less well known, and which we discover as we go on our journey, is that agriculture is a human activity able to provide solutions to our problems.

Agriculture has a very intimate relationship with carbon, a key element of life, which it needs to produce food. It also has the power to store carbon in the soil, enabling it to reduce its dependence on external inputs and to compensate for the emissions of other human activities. Can the vicious circle be transformed into a virtuous one?

How does agriculture work? How and why has it evolved so quickly? How can it be further transformed to ensure food security? How can it mitigate our negative impact on the climate?

How can it also help to repair a difficult relationship between the rural and the urban world? How can it simply help us to reconcile with nature, to let ourselves be inspired by the living world? How can biomimicry guide us?

These topics are debated by eminent specialists and trigger passionate debates. They are also embodied by women and men who, in their daily jobs, contribute to the permanent reinvention of agriculture and food, which, some 10,000 years ago, was a real breakthrough in human evolution.

These subjects concern us all, without exception. Our challenge is to give you the keys to understand them by devouring the works of Éditions La Butineuse! ????