The Dynaversityproject, taking forward what emerged in the previous DIVERSIFOOD and CERERE projects, focused on understanding the various dimensions of in situ conservation to facilitate communication and dissemination. The loss of diversity in the agri-food chain, and in particular the genetic erosion of edible plants, has been one of the consequences of modern agriculture that acquires particular significance in the context of climate change, as it reduces the ability of crops to adapt to changing conditions. Diversity conservation strategies have long focused on so-called ex-situ conservation (seed banks), but this mode of conservation has the disadvantage of placing limits on the amount of material conserved. Moreover, the material stored in seed banks is, so to speak, stationary in time, as it does not continue to adapt year after year to changing conditions in the fields. To underline the importance of on-farm conservation, DYNAVERSITY facilitated the integration of existing practical and scientific knowledge, and through the analysis of the communities involved in the conservation of agricultural biodiversity, the project aimed to identify efficient modes of organisation and management for the reintroduction of biodiversity into the food chain. As part of the project, Rural Seeds Network has worked to make visible the practices adopted to improve on-farm seed, and to promote its circulation in the community, producing evidence to influence the management strategies of seed systems in the direction of reintroducing biodiversity into the food chain. The project is nearing completion, and case studies and other documentation can already be found on the website. In particular, this project has produced a series of 10 short illustrative videos on biodiversity in the food supply chain, the various laws and regulations that promote and/or hinder agrobiodiversity, and how consumers can also take action to preserve it. Website: http://www.dynaversity.eu/
DIVERSIFOOD, is a European project funded by the Horizon 2020 programme, set out to identify and promote local and regional activities as a new paradigm for the food system, integrating crop diversity into networks for high quality local food systems. A multi-actor project, DIVERSIFOOD involved a wide range of stakeholders in the food system from field to table in different European countries: public and private research institutes, universities, technical organisations, professional breeders, processors, retailers, citizen networks and farmer networks involved in on-farm breeding and seed production. The project addressed three main issues:
supporting and promoting innovative models of biodiversity management
supporting the use of quality, healthy and tasty products and their valorisation on the market
promoting participatory research and communication tools to support and extend collaboration
Il progetto si e’ concluso con le seguenti raccomandazioni:
Promuovere la diversità e’ essenziale per la sostenibilita dei sistemi sementieri, e questa diversità richiede circolazione sia di materiale genetico che di conoscenza tra i soggetti coinvolti, facilitato da legislazione e regolamentazione specifica
La comunità e le sue norme ed aspettative sono elementi fondamentali per lo sviluppo dei semi sementieri a livello locale e vanno considerate nei loro impatti;
Le case delle sementi colmano a livello locale il vuoto tra gli agricoltori e le banche del seme, tale ruolo richiede quindi valorizzazione
The project has closed with the following recommendations:
Promoting diversity is essential for the sustainability of seed systems, and this diversity requires circulation of both genetic material and knowledge among stakeholders, facilitated by specific legislation and regulation The community and its norms and expectations are key to seed development at the local level and their impacts must be considered; Seed houses fill the gap between farmers and seed banks at local level, this role therefore requires valorisation
Available on the project website are a series of factsheets on biodiversity in all its aspects in the food supply chain (from seed, through field research to product marketing), farmers’ rights and seed houses. Website: http://www.diversifood.eu/ Duration: 2015-2019
Industrial agriculture is promoting a new phase based on the idea that the use of technology and data makes it possible to increase the efficiency of agricultural production by improving the use of resources. Innovation policies at European and global level promote the application of a high-tech approach to the agricultural sector. Most of the technological tools developed for agriculture are directed at large industrial companies that can invest in these technologies. But even the agro-ecological approach needs a great deal of knowledge of local conditions, from interaction with the climate to soil quality and variety choice. So is it possible to develop technological tools that are alternatives to the industrial approach and that can be used by communities that use and conserve agrobiodiversity?
The CAPSELLA project involved IT experts, agronomists, farmer groups and seed networks to develop innovative technological solutions for agrobiodiversity, with the aim of understanding how the use of data can help communities innovate through the use of applications and tools that meet their needs and visions. The project has carried with pilot activities, of which the Rural Seeds Network coordinated the one related to the creation of an app to facilitate the management of data collected in participatory genetic breeding experimental fields, reducing the level of error of data collected in different farms by different people. For the Rural Seeds Network, the Capsella project represented an opportunity to reflect on the theme of digitalisation in agriculture and how this can be developed with a participatory approach and an interactive innovation model. Website: www.capsella.eu Duration: 2016-2018
Maximise the use of organic seeds, specifically adapted for organic farming! Seeds are the foundation of agriculture. For this reason, organic farming should be based on the use of organic seeds. The use of organic seeds is a prerequisite for the production of certified organic food products: however, untreated conventional seeds are often used as an exception in many European countries. Varieties suitable for organic farming systems are the key to unlocking the production potential of organic farming in Europe. Tolerance and resistance against pathogens and pests, nutrient efficiency, are some of the genetic traits needed for an organic-specific adaptation. However, due to the lack of investment in the sector, few organisations are involved in genetic improvement for organic farming. The objective of LIVESEEDis to improve transparency and competitiveness within the organic breeding sector, and in organic seed production, by encouraging greater use of organic seeds. LIVESEED aims at:
to facilitate a harmonisation of the application of organic regulations among different European countries;
to strengthen databases on organic seed production and use in Europe;
Analysing the socio-economic aspects underlying organic seed production and use;
to increase the quality and market availability of organic seeds;
to develop guidelines for the evaluation and registration of organic cultivars;
developing innovative approaches for genetic improvement to expand the choice and availability of organic cultivars.
The research work will cover legumes, vegetables, fruit trees, cereals and fodder crops, bringing together the different agri-food systems in Europe. LIVESEEDis a multi-actor project representing 49 partners from 18 European countries. The consortium brings together research institutes, breeders, seed companies, organic associations (farmers, processors, breeders) and national authorities. The project is in its final phase and many of the documents and videos about the project are already available on the website. Website: http://www.liveseed.eu Duration: 2017-2021
European project CERERE revolved around sustaining and promoting the innovative approaches emerging in Europe to introduce and manage agrobiodiversity in cereal production. With a view to combining insights from practice with scientific research, CERERE set out to establish multi-actor networks for collaboration.
The project addressed such questions as:
access to biodiverse seed for on farm breeding
innovative breeding methodologies to enable adaptive evolution of cereals to local and environmental conditions
policy impacts on agrobiodiversity
quality of cereal products and related practices
Rete Semi Rurali was responsible for the organisation and facilitation of the European (Let’s Cultivate Diversity) as well as national events involving the various stakeholders to collaborate, spread innovation and share knowledge, making answers available to farmers.
Recommendations from the project can be summarised as:
Short and alternative supply chains deliver sustainable, nutritious cereals and derived products, appreciated by consumers. Enabling regulations at local and regional level are essential and allocation of funds should favour a diversity of community and artisanal initiatives
Biodiversity in the field starts with the seed that should be available at community level for on farm conservation
Specific training for farmers and researchers in participatory research in necessary together with European-level support and alongside honest communication on the harmful effects of industrial agriculture and the potential benefits of collective management of biodiversity
Among the outcomes of CERERE were a wide range of technical booklets on cereals, cereal products and related artisanal practices, which are available on the website together with the project deliverables.