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Virtuous Agriculture

Nov. 17, 2020

A webinar with Andrea Illy and Dr. Rattan Lal

In November 2020, WCR was honored to host a conversation between two of the world's most prominent proponents of regenerative, or "virtuous" agriculture—Andrea Illy, the CEO of illycafe, and Dr. Rattan Lal of Ohio State University, who was awarded the 2020 World Food Prize for his work on soil health in agriculture. The discussion reflects on what virtuous agriculture is, how it might be applied to coffee, and what contributions both science and industry can make. The webinar is part of the WCR Presents series, which features the work of experts in coffee and agricultural science. 

“I believe soil is a living thing. That’s what soil health means, soil is life. Every living thing has rights. Therefore, soil also has rights. As long as you are consuming the natural resources—food, water, elements—coming from the soil, you owe it to soil to put something back, to give something back, whatever you can.” —Dr. Rattan Lal, World Food Prize winner

"The mother of all causes is climate change. We absolutely must reach the Paris goals. ... But we don’t want to buy carbon credits outside our value chain. It doesn’t work. So we need to have a soil-to-soil carbon cycle. We need to sink carbon in the same soil where we grow our coffee." —Andrea Illy, illycaffe

Please register below to watch the recording.

About the speakers

Andrea Illy is currently the Chairman of illycaffè and served as the company’s Chief Executive Officer for over 22 years, until 2016. Mr. Illy has used his position to draw international attention to the climate crisis and to advocate for urgent responses from the business community. Among his many recognitions, Mr. Illy was named Cavaliere del Lavoro by the President of the Italian Republic. Always one to be pushing forward, Mr. Illy has begun to engage the coffee industry to think more deeply about the concept of regenerative, or virtuous, agriculture, and has brought this topic forward to us today.

Dr. Rattan Lal is the winner of the 2020 World Food Prize, often called the Nobel Prize of agriculture. The prize is awarded to individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. From his humble beginnings as a refugee growing up on a small subsistence farm in India, his determination to learn and succeed in school propelled him to become one of the world’s foremost soil scientists. His pioneering research on the restoration of soil health in Africa, Asia and Latin America led to revelations that impacted agricultural yields, natural resource conservation and climate change mitigation. The agricultural practices Lal advocated are now at the heart of efforts to improve agriculture systems in the tropics and globally. He is a Distinguished University Professor  of Soil Science and Director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at Ohio State University.

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