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A thematic network to design the penetration PAth of Non-food Agricultural Crops into European Agriculture

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - PANACEA (A thematic network to design the penetration PAth of Non-food Agricultural Crops into European Agriculture)

Reporting period: 2019-05-01 to 2021-02-28

PANACEA aims to set up a thematic network that will foster the effective exchange between research, industry, and the farming community, so that direct applicable solutions are widely disseminated and grassroots level needs and innovative ideas are thoroughly captured, in order to design the penetration path of non-food crops into European agriculture. The specific objectives of the project are:
1. To create an inventory of long term scientific results generated through R&I projects on the sustainable production of NFC as well as to identify those that are close to implementation in agricultural and forestry practice.
2. To analyse the role that NFC can play in the renaissance of European rural areas taking into consideration the farmers’ and bio-based industries’ needs and interests.
3. To establish a strong and interactive multi-actor forum by involving a wide range of actors from science, industry and agricultural practice that will facilitate capturing and spreading innovative ideas.
4. To establish capacity building activities through substantial training courses and educational material with practice-oriented knowledge on specific value chains that will be easily accessible and available in the long term beyond the project period.
5. To develop, operate and maintain the PANACEA platform which will offer a range of services to key stakeholders and end-users on NFC, including: knowledge sharing, communication and networking, assessment of the economic and environmental aspects of NFC, and matching between the supply and demand sides.
6. To disseminate the project findings at large following an extended exploitation and dissemination plan that will be active throughout the project and beyond as well as to ensure the sustainability of the Thematic Network on non-food crops through its link with EU wide initiatives, especially the EIP-AGRI and its Operational Groups.
The work performed is presented below.
The applicable R&I results on near-to-practice NFC had be recorded, compiled and evaluated in a consistent and homogeneous way and a dedicated inventory had been generated in three steps: a) a systematic data collection of relevant R&I projects, b) selection of those NFC ready for practical and c) analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) of these crops taking into account the farmers’ and biobased industries’ needs (WP2) and the outcomes of PANACEA events.
The driving forces for the penetration of near-to-practice NFC had been analysed. The first step was to record and analyse existing knowledge and competences at the level of farmers, the specific farmers’ needs according to the CAP 2020, the new schemes for new farmers’ incentives, the farming sustainability, etc. Secondly, the needs and interests of bio-based industries (biochemicals, biomaterials, and bioenergy) for feedstock had been analysed. Interviews and questionnaires had been used. A portfolio of opportunities, terms and conditions for ready to practice NFCs have been recorded. Finally the role that the NFCs can play in the renaissance of the rural areas was analysed.
Targeted cross-sectorial value chain events had been organised at both regional/national and EU level focusing on the non-food value chains of the most promising and near to practice crops. R&I results were presented and shared in a language easily understandable by the relevant actors. A PANACEA’s Roadmap with success criteria were structured from national roadmaps that were produced in the course of the interactive multi-actor value chains networking.
Targeted training courses had been carried out for practitioners of the whole value chain and had been held in the participating countries. The training courses were organised in three levels: agronomists, farmers and students. In each training event appropriate printed material in a language easily understandable and distributed to the practitioners. The material that have been developed is including the existing best practices at the level of farmers and research results and will be easily accessible and available in the long term beyond the project duration.
An interactive web-based platform had been designed, is being developed and validated with the participation of the relevant stakeholders. The PANACEA Platform acts as an on-line content aggregator for the adoption of NFC providing the necessary information for farmers to stimulate their transition to non-food cropping systems. It took place into consideration the profitability in comparison to traditional crops for given pedo-climatic conditions, and other variables of resistance to change (investment required in machinery, innovation in processing and logistics, etc.). It has been designed to be searchable, updatable as well as connectable (necessary interfaces with the DG AGRI, EIP Service point database).
PANACEA has been established direct communication with the European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP AGRI) and its structures (Focus Groups, Service Point, Operational Groups, and National Clusters) in order to maximise stakeholders’ mobilization and enhance the impact of the project activities and outcomes for closing the research and innovation gap in the area of NFC for the bio-based economy. PANACEA is connected with some of the existing operational groups and a new focus group (FC 40) on industrial crops proposed and established in 2020. Additionally, a dissemination plan has been established including: project’s events, social media, promotional material, links with relevant projects, organisations, platforms, etc.
The PANACEA results of are summarized below:
1. An inventory on non-food crops (NFCs) at EU level
2. Identification of those NFCs that are near to agricultural practice (29 in total) and SWOT analysis for them.
3. Identification of farmers and industry needs for non-food crops as feedstock for bio-based products and bioenergy.
4. Analysis of the role of NFCs in the rural renaissance.
5. Selection of the NFCs ready for practice for the participating countries.
6. Training courses the practitioners (farmers, agronomists, students near graduation) and training material production.
7. Link with EIP AGRI & Focus Group on Industrial Crops.
8. PANACEA platform.
9. Roadmap for the successful penetration on NFCs in EU agriculture.