Competition for Resources in a Changing World: New Drive for Rural Development
In recent years the TROPENTAG has become the most important International Conference on development-oriented research in the fields of Food Security, Natural Resource Management and Rural Development in central Europe. Since 1999 it is convened alternately by a number of German Universities in co-operation with ATSAF and GTZ/BEAF, all of them are engaged in agriculture and forestry in tropical countries. The TROPENTAG provides an international platform for scientific and personal exchange for students, junior and senior scientists, and development practitioners alike. The increasing international interest in the TROPENTAG from a large and still growing audience demonstrates its importance on the agenda of both, the development oriented scientific community and the implementing development organisations. The TROPENTAG 2008, organised by the Centre for Agriculture in the Tropics and Subtropics of the University of Hohenheim, was held under the conference theme ''Competition for Resources in a Changing World: New Drive for Rural Development''. After many years of public disregard, agriculture is back in the headlines. The conference aimed to shed light on the opportunities, threats and challenges triggered by the ongoing boom in agriculture. Growing demand for food for a still rapidly increasing population in the South, an alarming decrease in available arable land, and the emergence of bio-energy production as a new powerful and competitive player have contributed to recent price hikes in agricultural commodities. This development increases the value of agricultural enterprises and stimulates investment in this long-time neglected sector. Better-off farmers and international companies will most likely benefit from the recent trends in agriculture, whereas resource-poor rural people, being economically unable to take part in the new drive in rural development, may be left even more vulnerable and dependent. Land degradation, increasing scarcity of water and negative impacts of climate change, which are intensively hitting the tropics and subtropics, may counteract potentially positive developments. The agricultural sector being a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and one of the largest water users, also holds the key to alleviating emerging problems by developing more resource-efficient, productive, climate-friendly and sustainable land use systems. The Tropentag 2008 discussed the implications of the aforementioned issues on a global, regional, farm and field level, considering resource allocation and use, biodiversity and income generation.