(03/24/23) BATON ROUGE, La. — Last year in Louisiana and in Hungary, the weather was not on farmers’ side. In both places, drought conditions hampered crop production.
Difficult years like 2022 can be instructive, however, especially for scientists working in agricultural research who look for ways to make farming more efficient and sustainable.
“It’s important that people have evidence-based knowledge,” said Bela Kocsy, the agricultural attaché at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington, D.C. “We had a disaster — a huge drought — last year, and sooner or later, we have to change the crop system. We have to use new variations.”
Kocsy was among dozens who attended the recent Food Symposium 3.0 organized by the LSU AgCenter and the Czech Republic’s Mendel University. The event, held March 20 to 24, highlighted the importance of research and international collaboration to address problems facing the agriculture and food sectors.
The AgCenter and Mendel University have had a strategic partnership for several years. Faculty and students have participated in exchanges and worked on joint projects.
The Food Symposium has been held annually since 2021. This year featured a new partner, the Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Poland.
The symposium included presentations by faculty and students from all three institutions, with topics ranging from food safety and quality issues to food insecurity to crop diseases. Some participants gathered in Efferson Hall on the LSU campus; others joined virtually from Europe.
“When I came, I realized so many opportunities,” Kocsy said.
When it comes to solving problems to make sure farmers are successful and people have an adequate food supply, universities play a crucial role, he said. He believes their impact can be amplified by “the exchange of students, professors and new ideas.”
“With those institutions together, we can implement all these research results in real life,” he said.
Jiri Skládanka, vice rector for international relations at Mendel, said his university’s partnership with the AgCenter has provided students and faculty valuable opportunities for research experience. Many students put together posters and gave talks on their projects at the symposium; information on their work is available online at https://bit.ly/3yXu6LA.
Skládanka said the event covered several important topics.
“Food begins not in a factory; food begins in the field,” he said. “This symposium shows it. We discussed microorganisms in the field, in the plants. We discussed food quality. We discussed waste management. All these topics are about food, and food isn’t only about the refrigerator or only the supermarket. Food starts in the soil.”
Jyoti Aryal, right, an LSU graduate student in food science, talks with Holltman Flores, left, a graduate assistant with the LSU AgCenter Global Network, about her research on bacterial pathogens affecting bell peppers. Aryal was one of many students who made posters about their work to display and discuss during the recent Food Symposium 3.0. Photo by Olivia McClure/LSU AgCenter