Growing Consciousness: RIS Challenge project aimed at revitalizing
agro-food chains in rural areas through sustainable innovation.
The project Growing Consciousness: RIS Challenge project aimed at revitalizing agro-food chains in rural areas through sustainable innovation aims at producing a series of educational activities directed to fill the existing know-how gap (at technical, business and logistic level) between mainstream agricultural entrepreneurship, typical of large intensive production flatland areas, and rural areas agriculture characterized by fractionated small-cultivated areas, often in mid-mountains or hillside slopes, with niche production of local varieties. The activities also aim at bringing knowledge about sustainable innovative farming techniques, as well as on innovative tools and machinery for agriculture digitalization and production yield increase.
The ambition is to 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 edible products in Europe or give raise to side stream exploitation and local industry growth.
Starting from the consideration that the products deriving from cultivations of ancient cereal crops, that are thought to preserve exceptional nutritional properties and components compared to modern mass-produced cereals are rapidly gaining market shares, we expect that professionally trained small farmers could became relevant actors in such a market.
The ground on which the project leans is the promotion of innovation in the agro-food sector in RIS countries based on the increase of biodiversity in agriculture cultivated varieties, the pursue of sustainable production and the promotion of a value chain that could give more emphasis and acceptability to life and work in European rural areas.
The decrease in biodiversity of agricultural productions endangers the possibility of feeding the world in the near future. For this reason, activities are proposed to encourage European producers (in the specific case of RIS countries) to diversify crops and by making available to the food chain a wide spectrum of cereal products, as well as medicinal plants and aromatic herbs, deriving from the cultivation of many different species. Food products deriving from sustainable productions will be increasingly sought-after by consumers, especially in areas where the environmental and social sustainability of consumption is rapidly gaining attention with significant effects on the market choices of individual consumers.