Could you tell us about the International Agricultural Show?
The show started 56 years ago. It is the property of the CENECA (Centre National des Expositions et Concours Agricoles). The French are very attached to this unique event: the show is popular with people of all generations. In fact, the International Agricultural Show is somewhere you discover when you are a child and where you return to with your kids and then your grandchildren. There is a strong link between the French and the show. Today, visitors represent 1% of the French population. What you will find here are animals, and products manufactured in different regions. What makes this show unique is its pedagogical aspect; everything that is shown is represented through dialogue with others. It is a real platform for expression and demands.
All agricultural sectors are represented, in 4 categories:
- Crop and plant sectors, gardening and vegetable gardens
- Livestock production and its sectors,
- Products from France and overseas French territories and the rest of the world
- Agricultural services and professions
What have been the highlights of the show since it was created?
In 1963, Edgard Pisani, then Minister of agriculture, created the CENECA, which was intended ‘to assume responsibility for national or international agricultural exhibitions and competitions and, in particular, for the Concours Général Agricole’ (‘General Agricultural Competition’) created in 1871 in Poissy, which continued to develop and which since 1925 has been held at Porte de Versailles.
In 1964, the International Agricultural Show opened its doors for the first time and became the showcase for the General Agricultural Competition. The stage was set and the entire agricultural world gathered there. This major show opened its doors in March and attracted more than 300,000 visitors. The show has becoming a must-visit for numerous political figures.
There are some changes to it each year in accordance with current events. Three years ago, the new technologies sector appeared, as well as the offerings of several start-ups. Since last year, we have also presented the urban agriculture sector, a subject that is becoming more and more of a reality for people.
What events and activities are planned for this year’s show?
Every year many special events and activities are organized on all the stands with a common objective: to explain, and help people understand! These include discovery areas for animal and plant species, interactive quizzes for kids and adults, pedagogical areas with virtual reality, culinary workshops, and new forms of agriculture. These events and activities are all proposed by the show and by our exhibitors around the theme ‘Agriculture: women, men and their expertise’.
How is the agricultural sector doing today?
Everything depends on the particular sector, but overall it is a sector that is suffering from many problems ranging from climate change to the selling price of products. The Etats Généraux de l'Agriculture has shown that the real question revolves around distribution channels, notably, just how much is the consumer prepared to pay for a healthy product?
What explains the choice of Paris each year as the venue for the show?
The show has been held at the Porte de Versailles since 1925. It wins out as a venue primarily because of its ability to host a large number of people in a safe environment. In addition, the accessibility and presence of public transport are important elements and decisive criteria!
Proximity to government ministries is also important. The Minister of Agriculture attends the show, accompanied by his cabinet and his counterparts from many countries. This does not prevent many agricultural fairs located in the Regions from doing very well!