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ECHO conference Thursday to mark 25 years

By Staff | Nov 14, 2018

It is a much different world now than it was in 1994 when ECHO started to hold its annual International Agricultural Conference.

With all the knowledge gained about growing crops in virtually any type of condition, hunger throughout the world has been dropping rapidly.

ECHO will hold its Silver Anniversary conference through Thursday, with more than 220 delegates from 25 countries gather for three days, network, learn and bring their findings home to help farmers increase their harvests and feed more people, despite being in regions where farming is quite difficult.

Underway as of Tuesday are more than 60 workshops on a wide range of topics, which will provide valuable experience to engaged practitioners from around the world.

There also will be special events to commemorate this milestone, such as videos from past delegates and a special presentation during the Thursday evening banquet.

“The conference has always been a product of those who come to network, and share information, knowledge and ideas,” said Danielle Flood, ECHO spokesperson. “It’s integral to the nature of the conference because people are able to come from other countries and have added depth to the conference.”

Flood added that in recent years, college students have come, making the conference an intergenerational event focused on animals and agricultural development.

This exchange of information, as well as work from the United Nations and its millennium development goals has helped reduce hunger by 30 percent in the last 20 years, Flood said.

Morning and evening presentations, as in the past, will be held at the Cornew Plaza ballroom in Fort Myers. ECHO founder Dr. Martin Price will be the keynote speaker, who will talk about how ECHO made a global impact and ways other organizations can as well.

Parasitic plants, underutilized crops, agrologist and growing vegetables in inner-city Detroit will also be subjects.

The afternoon sessions will be at the ECHO Farm off Durrace Road, where delegates will have lunch and participate in farm tours, workshops and hands-on activities such as grafting, a seed bank tour and classroom workshops and lectures.

There will also be a seed-saving event where delegates will harvest the seeds and package them for the seed ministry, Flood said.

“They will be learning about soil, biotas and appropriate technologies and seminars on how to make flooring out of bamboo,” Flood said. “There are a lot of interesting topics this year.”

ECHO will also host post-conference workshops on Friday, which will include a seed swap.