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RIS Growing Consciousness: Revitalizing agrifood value chains in rural areas

Our objective is to produce a set of activities (summer schools, focus groups, professional workshops, stakeholders and community meetings, business creation support).

2020

Our objective is to produce a set of activities (summer schools, focus groups, professional workshops, stakeholders and community meetings, business creation support), which will foster skills, techniques and know-how aimed at revitalizing the cultivation of ancient/almost vanished varieties of cereals, medicinal plants and aromatic herbs in rural areas across RIS countries in Southern and Eastern Europe in a sustainable way. The activities aim at bringing knowledge about sustainable innovative farming techniques as well as on innovative tools and machinery for agriculture digitalization and production yield increase, from EIT Food partners companies and Rising Food Stars to agro-food sector professionals in RIS countries.

Why a project aimed to revitalise food value chains using traditional crops?

Conventional farming brought great benefits to humanity by increasing food availability at a little cost. Consequently, famines have mostly gone from chronic to rare due to chemical fertilisers, pesticides, mechanisation, and other techniques. However, this type of farming displaced the cultivation of traditional crops because they were not suitable for conventional farming techniques and unfit for mainstream distribution channels. Furthermore, conventional agriculture is fostering rural migration and is hurting soils and local ecosystems.

In this context, the recovery of traditional food value chains has the potential to benefit farmers, revitalise rural areas, thereby creating both ecological and economic improvements over conventional agricultural practices. These crops can be cultivated and distributed using a combination of traditional techniques with the potential to be enhanced and scaled with digital technologies and new agronomic approaches.

Objectives

Growing Consciousness aims to:

  • Conduct an online summer school for students and farmers, a co-creation lab and a business competition that will: foster skills, techniques and know-how aimed at revitalising the cultivation of the aforementioned traditional crops
  • Train farmers who wish to continue to live and work in rural areas and to add value to the food chain by introducing innovative farming of ancient/traditional crops that could be the basis of new or renovated ag-products in Europe or give raise to side-stream exploitation and local industry growth.

Stages

  • Summer School (September 14-18): Open to 60 participants from RIS regions in Italy, Poland, and Spain (in English)
  • Co-Creation Workshops: Farmers and students will develop business plans for the reintroduction of crops.
    • Italy (September 19-20)
    • Poland (September 28-29)
    • Spain (September 28-29)
  • Mentorship/Ongoing Support: Personalised mentoring from experts in business, agrifood and successful entrepreneurs.
  • Business Competition (November 21)

Impact

  • 6 events to enhance the understanding of farmers and students of the opportunities, challenges and benefits derived from the cultivation and recovery of traditional crops and almost vanished varieties of cereals and aromatic plants in rural areas of Italy, Poland and Spain.
  • 60 participants will be upskilled on how to start their agrifood business and be successful; receiving personalised mentoring, training and becoming part of the big EIT Food community.
  • Standardised tools and materials to educate participants with entrepreneurial talent in RIS regions will be developed so that the programme can scale up in future years.
  • Increase understanding and visibility of the opportunities that traditional crops offer for farmers and innovation in RIS regions.

Application

Applications open. More information and registration here.

Partners

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Project lead

Laura Bonato

Laura Bonato

Task Leader