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New biodiversity project promises fruitful returns for farmers

Speed read
  • CAPSELLA aims to raise awareness about the agrobiodiversity domain by collating existing information via data-driven ICT applications.
  • By making use of ICT solutions, their goal is to help keep agriculture sustainable.
  • The project will last 30 months and produce a cloud platform with large data sets for research and educational use.

The CAPSELLA project is developing information and communication technology (ICT) applications to address major ecological, societal, food quality, and economic threats related to agriculture. The project aims to generate sustainability through scientific and local knowledge by building upon existing data sets.

“We are trying to show farmers who are not very familiar with ICT how beneficial it would be to share data,” says Giovanna Calabrò, communication and dissemination manager at CAPSELLA. “We want to demonstrate that open data collection and sharing could not only allow the project to deliver a catalogue of data to everyone, but would also illustrate the benefits of the agrobiodiversity domain.”

CAPSELLA — or, to give the project its full title, ‘Collective Awareness Platforms for Environmentally-Sound Land Management Based on Data Technologies and Agrobiodiversity’ — launched at the start of this year under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 funding program. The project is expected to last for 30 months, and includes partners from all over Europe, including Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and the Czech Republic.

CAPSELLA will address the use of functional agrobiodiversity in cropping systems, on-farm genetic diversity conservation, and the transparency of the processes that lead to the consumption of food.

<strong>First open workshop.</strong> CAPSELLA will hold its <a href='http://www.capsella.eu/first-workshop'>first open workshop</a> in Volterra, Italy, on 30-31 May. The event aims to raise awareness about the benefits of using ICT in agriculture and pave the way to develop novel solutions for biodiversity-based agriculture. The requirements of farmers and other agricultural stakeholders will be gathered at the event and this information will be used to shape CAPSELLA's activities over the next two years. Courtesy Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.

“The project is growing in a very dynamic way, in the sense that we all have different expertise that is complimentary to each other,” says Calabrò.

CAPSELLA will focus on agrobiodiversity and the food supply chain through use of novel, amended, and demand-driven ICT solutions, which will be tested by communities engaged in the project. They will use participatory data collection and integration to develop a number of community-driven ICT solutions. The first step is a technical prototyping platform which will act as a meeting environment for innovation, awareness, and information collection.

By building open data repositories concerning regional agrobiodiversity, CAPSELLA hopes to raise awareness of existing ICT solutions, and demonstrate how beneficial the use of such tools can be for the agricultural domain. The main outcome will be a cloud platform with data that can be used for research and education purposes.

Rural development policies are high priority for the EU, due to their social and economic significance. Biodiversity is taken into consideration by the EU in all its policies, since it is one of the key assets for sustainable development.

CAPSELLA will engage with farming communities and networks in order to understand and collect their needs and requirements. This way CAPSELLA can try to provide tailor-made solutions that hopefully address the issues of the farmers.

“We are aware that there are already ICT solutions, but not necessarily ones that match the needs and requirements of local communities, especially small communities of farmers,” says Calabrò.

“We hope that given the good start we’ve had in the last two months, working hard in a friendly and focused environment, we will manage to achieve what we promised.”

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