Name: Roland Ebel
Position: Professor at the University of the State of Mexico (UAEM)
How do you assess your country's situation at the moment?
In Mexico the political situation is stable, although extensive sectors of the Mexican society question the legitimacy of the federal and state governments: Corruption is omnipresent in both day-to-day life and democratic decision taking. Organized crime is said to be involved in most important decisions. The economic and the social situation of many Mexicans has worsened since the economic crisis in 2008. However, an economic deterioration as found in other Latin American countries could be avoided. Currently, the economic elites fear a revocation or restriction of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that has substantially boosted the Mexican economy while simultaneously harming the private sector. In 2017 several governmental measures (especially the privatization of the oil industry) as well as unfavorable international economic developments caused an inflation of the Mexican peso and rising prices of food and fuel. On the other hand the Mexican government undertook international climate goals and has achieved considerable progress in the protection of marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, the contamination of air, groundwater, and soils in many Mexican regions is alarming.
What are your professional activities and which skills to you consider important?
I am dedicated to university teaching and research. Since 2015 I work at the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico (UAEM) where I focus on the design of small-scale intercropping systems with corn and vegetables. The analysis of fermented liquid fertilizers made of locally available resources plays a key role in this regard. From 2008 to 2014 I contributed to the construction of a new university, the Intercultural Maya University of Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo). In addition to teaching and academic advising I am involved in participative action research, project evaluation and I served as Head of the Department of Sustainable Development. To succeed in this environment, one needs curiosity, dedication, cultural sensibility and openness, talent to extemporize, patience, and transdisciplinary thinking.
Which book is a must read?
To understand the complexity and the ecological richness of traditional Mesoamerican farming systems, I recommend reading Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems from Stephen R. Gliessman. The book is a benchmark for newcomers and experts in agroecology and it integrates multiple references specific to Mexican agriculture.