Organic/low input cereal food systems in the EU are emerging in answer to the sustainability crisis of the conventional agri-food sector. “Alternative” systems are based on local, decentralized approaches to production and processing, regard to quality and health, and short supply chains for products with strong local identities. Diversity is deeply embedded in these food systems, from the agro-biodiversity grown in farmers’ fields, which improves resilience and adaptation, to diverse approaches, contexts and actors in food manufacturing and marketing. Diversity thus becomes a cross-sectoral issue, underlying innovations in the agronomic, processing, and marketing phases which respond to consumers’ demand for healthy products. CERERE’s objective is to foster and speed up these innovations to strengthen the economic, social and environmental sustainability of these cereal food systems, consolidate links among practitioners and with researchers, further enhance the resilience of agro-ecosystems and make the overall sector more competitive and better recognized by society. By creating a multi-actor network of researchers and communities of practice, by adopting a bottom-up approach, and by liaising with EIP-AGRI Operational Groups, CERERE will synthesize, share and disseminate existing best practices, research results and co-innovative solutions in organic/low-input cereal food systems, focusing particularly on agro-biodiversity and the associated values of quality and health. Through its activities and training products, CERERE will address the key issues and most urgent needs of these systems: availability/ management of adapted germplasm, use of rotations, soil fertility, weed competitiveness and crop protection strategies, quality-oriented processing techniques, alternative marketing schemes. For each of these, CERERE will identify opportunities for better integrating science and practice, paving the way for more dynamic interactions between the two domains.
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