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A visit from Beijing

Visiting from Beijing: Prof. Li Yue, Dr. Eva Sternfeld, Benny Haerlin, Prof. Dong Hongmin, Rita Merkle

Eminent visitors on the weekend: Professors Li Yue and Dong Hongmin (surname before first name is the rule in China) from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing completed their four-day study trip on climate and agriculture organized by the German-Chinese Agricultural Center after visits to leading agricultural research institutions and institutes in Germany with a tour of our Global Field.

We digged out our best green tea and had an intensive conversation with the two scientists about the fundamental transformations agriculture is going through in this country and in China. Ms. Dong Hongmin is Deputy Director of the Academy’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability. She still knows the new Secretary General of the World Food Organisation, FAO, Dr.Qu from her student days and expects him to continue the new course of the FAO in the direction of sustainability. “After all, agroecology is an invention from China,” Professor Li added, smiling, ” since more than 5000 years!” Both are also experts in the International Panel on Climate Change IPCC.

Mrs. Li was the first visitor to our field, who immediately identified the cotton and peanut plants, even though they had not yet been flourishing. Cotton is her speciality. A stylized cotton boll adorns also the silk ties, which the two ladies had brought as a present for Frauke and me. We replied with some organic seeds, fresh from the Weltacker in Pankow.

The two professors particularly liked our “area buffet” depicting the area needed for individual dishes, and our new “underground station” on soil life. Fertile soil (in China there is are about 800 m² of farmland per person) is scarce and valuable. The use of pesticides, reported Prof. Dong, was now steadily declining.

Now we have cautious hopes, that a global field might also emerge in Beijing one day. Our website already speaks a little Chinese. 2000 m² are slightly more than 3 Chinese Mu. With a field of this size, many small farmers in China feed their entire family.