01/11/2021 | New EU-funded Project - More Crop Diversity for Agri-food Value Chains
© BioValue Project
The diversity of crop species and varieties has declined sharply in Europe in recent decades. The reason: Many crops, including various legumes, cereals and vegetables such as lentils, buckwheat, chard, which can significantly enrich biodiversity, have not been cultivated in recent decades, are no longer economically viable and are therefore increasingly absent from the agricultural value chain as well as from consumer diets. In the project “Fork-to-farm agent-based simulation tool augmenting BIOdiversity in the agri-food VALUE chain (BIOVALUE)”, an international consortium with the participation of the ZEU under the direction of Dr Elena Xoplaki will provide strategies to increase biodiversity from underutilized, genetically diverse crops and introduce this crop diversity into value chains.
The main goal of the BIOVALUE project is to develop a dynamic and adaptable tool that analyses the link between biodiversity, the agri-food value chain, the environment and consumer preferences and health. This tool will help to introduce, model, evaluate, produce and disseminate underutilized, genetically diverse crops and marketable end products made from them. These will include partly novel and partly traditional processed food products attractive for consumers and pave the way for agricultural production and market introduction of underutilized crops.
Within the BIOVALUE project, the ZEU-team will, among other things, be in charge of developing the work package tackling the “improvement of biodiversity connections in the agricultural and food sector’s value chain by employing BIOVALUE tools”. This will examine strategies to increase plant diversity for each actor in the value chain as well as the entire value chain. The ZEU team will focus in particular on the role of producers. The focus is on agricultural practices and cooperation strategies that aim to achieve high crop diversity. Together with other partners involved in this work package, ZEU researchers will test the BIOVALUE tool and interpret the results of the model to formulate recommendations for specific actors and the entire value chain. Within this process, it is extremely important to involve multiple stakeholders to ensure acceptance and implementation of the recommended actions.
In addition, JLU will lead the subprojects on modelling the potential impacts of climate change on biodiversity and the changing interactions between biodiversity, soil and water conditions due to climate change. Here, climate projections for the next decades will be generated on daily, monthly, and seasonal scales. Particular attention will be paid to the spatial and temporal distribution of extreme weather events in Europe, which have significant impacts on agriculture.
In addition, the ZEU team will be involved in the BIOVALUE plant breeding program, which aims at multiplying and distributing the underutilized species and varieties. The criteria for selecting these plants include their water-energy efficiency, ecological resilience, high nutritional quality and high potential to enter into value chain.