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DIVERSIFOOD Newsletter #2

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One year of food diversity


DIVERSIFOOD celebrated its first birthday! Started in March 2015, the project has now reached its first objectives to promote food diversity and quality in an innovative way.  

It was an intense year. Meetings, public events, trainings, field experiments: all these actions were organized with the overall goal of enriching the diversity of cultivated plants through a multi-actor approach.

What is DIVERSIFOOD


DIVERSIFOOD, "Embedding crop diversity and networking for local high quality food systems", is an international project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme for 4 years.

DIVERSIFOOD involves 21 organizations from 12 countries to enrich cultivated biodiversity by testing and promoting underutilized or forgotten crop species.

This is DIVERSIFOOD second newsletter. It aims to inform about the project development and results and will be published twice a year. 
 

Find out more on the project website

Download the DIVERSIFOOD brochure

Focus: Successful DIVERSIFOOD launch!

The first DIVERSIFOOD annual meeting was held in Nicosia (Cyprus). The local partner, ARI (Agricultural Research Institute), provided its precious support to INRA Transfert and INRA to organize the event.

In this three-days meeting, all the main activities carried out during the first year of the project were presented, and several thematic workshops were organized to promote discussion among partners.

“The DIVERSIFOOD kick-off meeting held in April 2015 had already set up the basis to find common keywords revolving around the concepts of biodiversity and food systems quality” said Véronique Chable, project coordinator.

“This first annual meeting further developed the selected keywords and concepts. It is crucial to create a common culture among partners, a key element of individual engagement in the project”.

The annual meeting also included a field visit: partners were invited to the experimental station of Zygi, where the Agricultural Research Institute is performing DIVERSIFOOD trials with different cereal varieties in Cyprus.

 DIVERSIFOOD recent activities

FOOD DIVERSITY: FINDING COMMON CONCEPTS AND METHODOLOGIES
 

Sustainable agriculture. Local adaptation. Resilience. Collaborative research. Food culture.
These were some of the keywords selected by DIVERSIFOOD partners to better express the philosophy of the project. During the first year, the consortium worked to identify the most important keywords for the internal communication, to create awareness that people can have different ideas, perspectives, points of view. A survey was spread in order to rate the proposed keywords and to collect new inputs. Then a further discussion among partners took place, so to develop common definitions of the different keywords.

 

MULTI-ACTOR AND ON-FARM EVALUATION
 

DIVERSIFOOD uses a combination of approaches to optimise the management of on-farm, multi-actor crop evaluation. In 2015, some preliminary crop trials were set up and, and the inventory work of underutilised genetic resources for marginal conditions began. In particular, a simple and yet crucial question was addressed: “what is needed to be known about a new/underutilised crop, and which needs should a trial answer?”
All the involved partners started answering these questions from their perspectives, with the overall goal to set common, yet flexible protocols to run participatory crop trials. The crop evaluation process is being carried on using participatory approaches, in order to build up new knowledge and bring up knowledge that is already on the field.

 

PARTICIPATORY CROP IMPROVEMENT 


As important as the discovery and characterization of diverse and untapped genetic resources, their combination and use through the establishment of new populations and their improvement by different breeding methods is of vital importance. In order to reach this goal, DIVERSIFOOD is developing new methods for creating diversity from genetic resources towards new populations. During the first year of the project, different experimental designs were settled: among them, RAS, ITAB, and RSP are testing tomatoes varieties in farmers’ fields; INRA, RSR, RAS, RSP are working on wheat; CSIC is working on faba bean; ITQB in collaboration with IPC is working on maize; FiBL is dealing with lupin resistance against Colletotrichum. The results of the different experiments will be used to design methods and user-friendly tools specifically suited for on farm decentralized breeding. The new derived populations, as well as the developed methods, will serve to improve the global performance production while maintaining diverse and rare qualities corresponding to emerging consumer demand.


INNOVATIVE BIODIVERSITY MANAGEMENT

What is a Community Seed Bank? What are the most effective case studies to be analysed in order to promote locally produced seeds? What are the key actions to support an innovative biodiversity management? During the first year of the project, all these questions have been addressed. A preliminary list of all the experiences working with local varieties and referring as potential Community Seed Banks (CSBs) were identified. The crops to be used as case studies dealing with locally produced seeds systems were also defined: tomato, wheat, buckwheat, maize, carrot and potato.
The first DIVERSIFOOD Innovation Factsheet on Defining Community Seed Banks was produced.
 


THE FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN: EMBEDDING DIVERSITY

It is crucial to the DIVERSIFOOD project, that food diversity based on old or newly bred varieties can be introduced into the market. The overall aim is to produce recommendations and guidelines for marketing and valorisation strategies of biodiverse food products and those based on newly bred lines from participatory plant breeding. To that end, the project aims to identify critical factors of successful / unsuccessful marketing strategies and to analyse in detail the whole process of value adding and communication from the breeder to the consumer based on different case studies. The consortium defined all the stakeholders to be included within this process: in fact successful market introduction requires some collaboration and communication between all the actors involved from breeders/multipliers, farmers, technicians, processors, retailers, intermediate users and the final consumers.

Focus: DIVERSIFOOD @ OSG Conference

DIVERSIFOOD Ccoordinator and 3 WP leaders attended the 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference (Corvalis, Oregon, USA) where they presented the project in a dedicated workshop “Strategies for Organic and Low Input breeding and Management”.

Organic Seed Alliance’s (OSA) 8th Organic Seed Growers Conference has met more than 500 participants attending the event in Corvallis, Oregon, from February 4 – 6, 2016, and an additional 330 people joining the conference via live webinar.

Participants represented 34 states, 10 countries, and 20 universities. Conference co-hosts included Oregon State University, Washington State University, and eOrganic.

 DIVERSIFOOD public events

Face-to-face communication is essential within DIVERSIFOOD to involve different stakeholders and spread the project vision. For this reason many public events took place during the first year: on average, more than 3 per month! In fact partners managed to organise more than 40 public events overall: social events, workshops, training sessions, conferences; these initiatives allowed to involve more than 1.000 stakeholders.

Countries that were particularly active were Italy (RSR), Spain (RAS), Switzerland (PSR, FiBL), France (RSP, INRA, ITAB), Austria (Arche Noah), Portugal (IPC) and UK (ORC). Internal training sessions involving all partners were also organised by Formicablu (Italy) during the DIVERSIFOOD kick off and the first annual meetings on participatory methods and social media.

The aim of these training sessions was to facilitate and optimise the outputs and stakeholders’ participation in the future workshops and forums that will be organized by partners within the DIVERSIFOOD framework.


SHARE SHOPS
 
These innovation sharing events enable advisors, farmer’s communities, breeders and other stakeholders to share their skills, information, and knowledge with each other and project partners.

They include activities such as field and farm days, farm walks, field labs/schools and innovation clubs whatever is the most appropriate and worthwhile for a given area.

Share Shops also act as a space for discussion of the project results and related topics with farmers, and are a fundamental tool to address DIVERSIFOOD topics in a participatory way.

 

Click on the pictures to learn more

FRANCE 

 
 

SWITZERLAND

 
UK


AUSTRIA


SPAIN


ITALY


PORTUGAL
 
Cultivated biodiversity
 
Multi-actor approaches
Participatory Plant Breeding
 
Get involved
DIVERSIFOOD Project

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