UK-India Agro-ecology Initiative 21-23rd February 2015, at the Centre for Pollination Studies, Calcutta University. Hosted by the Agricultural Ecology Special Interest Group (AeG) of the British Ecological Society & Society for Agro-ecology, India (SAEi)
Workshop session 1: Potential organisational links and joint actions
Delegates considered how the AeG and SAFEi could work together and suggested specific actions for building the relationship. In summary, the suggestions fell broadly under 6 headings.
1. Clarifying the aims of the collaboration
There was concern that the groups work together to define and share an understanding of "Agro-ecology". It was also considered important to be clear about the role of the collaboration (e.g. is it advocacy or evidence assessment in an objective way or knowledge exchange?) and that the organisations agree objectives for this relationship as they are likely to be a subset of the wider aims of the two societies. It is important to agree and to adhere to it to ensure credibility
2. Knowledge exchange and meetings
It was suggested that we should meet every two years (rather than annually). Several delegates were keen on a second meeting to be hosted in the UK. A jointly organised BES symposium was suggested.
5. Collaborative research
There was a desire to see collaborative research between the societies and some funding stream made available to support that.
That a position document on priorities for funding could be delivered to relevant decision making bodies in the UK and India.
Workshop session 2: Research priorities
Research priorities were set by the delegates:
Ecosystem services in agroecosystems
Direct pesticide effects and management
Nitrogen in the agroecosystem
Composting / fertilizers
Crop selection / development
Participatory research / evidence gathering / extension
Wildlife and Biodiversity
3. Student exchanges
Several delegates made the case for student exchanges between institutions and others that there should be an effort to raise funds to support this perhaps through a small working group. It was also suggested that the working group secure funds for joint PhD students.
4. Virtual resources
It was suggested that we establish a platform for joint experiments, a "wots my experiment.com" where the opportunity is offered for scientists to "tap into" an existing trial/or one which is about to start. A searchable website to identify discipline/individuals with contact details would be useful. A virtual publication reposition would be a valuable resource. There was an appetite for an E-group and Facebook pages as well as an annual newsletter/email - detailing recent activities, upcoming meetings, call for up-comingproposals, recent publications.