Servizio Comunitario di Informazione in materia di Ricerca e Sviluppo - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - INFOOD NETWORK (Sharing information on food related environmental, safety and traceability aspects among European small-medium farms)

European farms are forced to face a national and international market that is increasingly competitive in terms of quality and safety of products, environmental efficiency and cost saving. Therefore, actions are required to improve their performance and motivate their development.

In this context, the objectives of the INFOOD NETWORK project were to provide support to farms in order to overcome obstacles preventing them from reaching a better position within the international market, as well as to identify future research projects in the agro-food primary sector. The project addressed small and medium sized enterprises, i.e. farms, (SMEs) which were prevented from reaching their full potential and remaining competitive against international, extra European Union competitors. The observed obstacles also prevented farms from complying with environmental legislation, reducing pollution and responsibilities and becoming competitive via the reduction of costs. As such, the challenge was to encourage SMEs in agriculture to utilise environmental management practices as an opportunity for economic and sustainable growth through the development and implementation of non polluting techniques and environmentally friendly means.

The project was structured in eight distinct, yet interrelated, work packages (WPs), seven of which focussed on support activities. WP8 was concerned with INFOOD NETWORK management and public relations. Data was collected using a questionnaire, which demonstrated that most analysed farms were relatively large; however, a rather scarce knowledge of and reduced interest in environmental issues was pinpointed. Therefore, the necessity for a tool, such as the network offered by the project, to improve the environmental consciousness of farms and stimulate them towards tackling environmental and food safety issues, became apparent.

A website, constructed particularly for this purpose, served as a means for disseminating the project findings and stimulating networking activities. A related affiliation procedure was set up, as well as all the necessary material for the online and remote affiliation of SMEs. Numerous best practices were subsequently proposed to respond to the farms' needs. Stakeholders from various countries were also involved in the initiative. Finally, the methodological guide that was developed allowed for the analysis of the nature and extent of environmental, safety and traceability issues and for the adoption of adequate solutions exploiting the contents of the project database.

INFOOD NETWORK was disseminated using a knowledge exploitation strategy. In addition, a new project proposal was formulated, to enable the creation of a similar network in the animal husbandry sector. Even though this proposal was not selected, it formed the foundation towards further development and exploitation of the proposed innovations.

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