“The Soul Qualities in Biodynamic Agriculture” was the slogan of the 19th Demeter International Conference that recently took place at SEKEM. 31 delegates from 20 countries visited the farm to discuss the future of Demeter and the importance of animals in farming.
The Soul of the Farm Organism
“How can we accompany the animals with dignity into the future?” was the core question of the participants that guided the discussions. From 6 to 11 June, the Demeter International members saw in SEKEM how animal husbandry is adapted to a desert environment. It was also discussed how bio-dynamic farming with its preparations and organic approach to farming can offer solutions for extreme climate conditions.
“Animals contribute enormously to the soul of the farm organism”, Demeter International stated. Studies show that the humus content of the soil increases in the presence of animal manure. On the other hand, farms who do not engage in husbandry face decreasing yields or have to work with commercial fertilizers.
Demeter in Egypt in 2020
Helmy Abouleish, who has been involved in Demeter International since 1997, presented SEKEMs vision for Demeter in Egypt in 2020. It includes four sectors: training, research and development, a focus on regionalism, and advocacy. Hence, there is the plan to offer a university course as well as training in Biodynamic agriculture at SEKEM’s Vocational Training Centre. Above all else, SEKEM intends to strengthen research projects that support the significance of Biodynamic food production, for instance through “True Cost Accounting” that reveals the true prices of organic food. Furthermore, SEKEM aims to cultivate three times as much area using Biodynamic methods by the year 2020 than it does now.
Aside from a tough discussion and workshop agenda, the Demeter members attended “spiritual contributions” with Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish in the mornings. The SEKEM founder specifically spoke about the compatibility of Islam and Biodynamic agriculture.
SEKEM as an Inspiration
As the Demeter International conference had already met in SEKEM in 1998, all participants were impressed to see the development of the initiative. “They left with confidence and told us that it was very motivating to see that even in the challenging circumstances in Egypt, SEKEM has succeeded in achieving so much”, Angela Hofmann, SEKEM co-worker and one of the event’s organizer proudly exclaimed when the group left.