The BioDiversity Grow conferences were held in streaming between November 4 and 5 under the title “Transition of the fruit and vegetable sector towards a production model based on Sustainability”
Within the framework of the BioDiversity Grow program, on November 4 and 5, a series of streaming sessions were held on the “Transition of the fruit and vegetable sector towards a production model based on Sustainability”. The aim of these conferences was to channel and guide companies in the sector towards the essential and necessary change towards a sustainable production model, in addition to publicizing the work and the BioD program.
Changes in consumption habits and the unstoppable trend towards environmental protection are some of the factors involved in the process towards sustainable production in the fruit and vegetable sector, which also helps to promote the differentiation of our agriculture from new emerging markets. BioDiversity Grow has wanted to put on the table the importance of a change towards a model of sustainable agricultural production, with fewer phytosanitary products and the conservation of the environment.
On the first day, Carlos Martínez, Commercial Director of Quality & Adviser has presented relevant figures such as Carina Mazzuz, Technical Director Quality & Adviser, S.L.; Rafael Laborda Cenjor, UPV professor and scientific director of the BioD team, and Andreu Román Fernández, field director of the BioD team, who presented the challenge facing the conventional production model, the causes that foster change and the fundamental pillars of BioD program. Also, the new tools available to farmers to promote the change towards a more sustainable model.
On the second day, the round table was moderated by Tere Pilán Lozano, technical secretary of the Official College of Agricultural Engineers and graduates from Valencia and Castellón, where trends in consumption and large distribution in this new scenario were discussed among relevant agents, from handling of products in warehouses, packers and marketers.
The program allows consumers to actively participate and commit with their purchase in the promotion of sustainability and biodiversity
The essential path towards sustainability
In a society that is increasingly concerned about the environment, the least possible use of phytosanitary products and pesticides in agriculture, and sustainable development in general, specific quality standards and a new demand come into play: a product obtained with less pesticides and whose production is compatible with sustainable development.
In this way, the BioDiversity Grow Program wants to bet on a product with a purpose, cultivated naturally and that promotes biodiversity to fight climate change and people’s health by reducing pesticides as much as possible.
Carina Mazzuz, Technical Director Quality & Adviser, S.L., pointed out in the conference the 10 principles for the transition to sustainability in the production and packaging of fruits and vegetables, where she distinguished some of the causes that urge to base this change towards sustainability. On the one hand, there is an increasing contamination of water, soil and air, which from the agricultural field can work to reduce emissions and the excessive use of phytosanitary products. On the other hand, the possibilityof insufficient resources in the immediate future, both productive and human. In the new legal framework, increasingly strict with the use of phytosanitary products and the exhausted linear economy model, as well as the change in consumer habits, are other causes that are undermining the production model of conventional agriculture and urgent a new more sustainable and respectful production model.
The program has a standard duration of three years, in which the previous data, evaluations, reports and management proposals are distributed
For this reason, BioD is aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, which are a planning and monitoring tool for sustainability management that are used in a common way in all countries, both nationally and internationally. . The BioD Program pays special attention to Goal 15: Life on Terrestrial Ecosystems, which seeks, according to the UN, to “promote the sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, fight against desertification, stop and reverse land degradation and stop loss of biological diversity”. In addition to this Goal, Goals 3: Health and Wellbeing, 12: Responsible Consumption and Production, and 13: Climate Action also apply.
Pesticides have become part of the routine of any agricultural activity. Cheap, easy to use and with great results in the short term, they have become the basis of pest control.
However, with an increasingly limited legal framework and the emergence of much less aggressive alternatives, broad-spectrum pesticides are getting a bad reputation.
Rafael Laborda Cenjor, UPV professor and scientific director of the BioD team calls for a change in the way of seeing the problem of pests and diseases, a problem that must be seen and treated in the long term. Diversity, stability, connectivity and soil quality are the four pillars that must shape a new way of addressing the problem of plant diseases, starting with biodiversity.
The objective is to form an ecological infrastructure that, through biodiversity, helps improve crop production. Functional biodiversity is the one that tries to determine which species and organisms favor the food and shelter of insects that are relevant in a crop.
BioDiversity Grow as a support and management tool
Andreu Román Fernández, also field director of the BioD team, explains the BioD Program as a circular process, where data is continually needed to evaluate the results obtained in the field. The program has a standard duration of three years, in which the previous data, evaluations, reports and management proposals are distributed.
The first year includes previous data, which are generally the cultivated areas and varieties, the key pests that affect the crops, as well as the phytosanitary treatments and, in general, the fertilization plan and the soil and water analysis. Throughout the second year, the interaction with the field increases, because thanks to the previous analyzes an evaluation is carried out, both at the level of the covers and of the beneficial fauna and bioindicators. Finally, some reports are prepared where the level of biodiversity in the plot is explained and management proposals are discussed: how to promote auxiliary fauna, what plant cover is adapted to each of the farms, including, within the same farms, what coverage is more interesting for one area or another. All this ends with the use of phytosanitary products that are as respectful as possible and with alternatives to their use.
The BioDiversity Grow Program wants to bet on a product with a purpose, grown naturally and that promotes biodiversity to fight climate change
Trends in consumption and large distribution in this new scenario
Both the trend on the part of the consumer and on the part of the States is towards a more sustainable future, with healthier products and more respectful policies with the environment. However, for farmers, a change in their production model can be difficult and economically costly. José Luis Peñarocha, from AMC Spain Fresh and Natural Foods, S. L., responds to the crossroads that thousands of producers are experiencing by proposing to change their production model: “Although everyones changes and beginnings always cost, being sustainable is a necessity today. A balance must be found between sustainability and an increasingly globalized world. The fact of initiating this change towards a more sustainable model of agriculture is necessary both for society, which demands it, and for the conservation of nature, in order to reduce pollution, improve the effects on climate change, carbon footprint, water footprint…”. In addition, it emphasizes the role of European policies in terms of sustainability: “From the European Commission this is the change that is being marked for the future, the Green Deal, pointing towards a better relationship between nature and food systems”.
Quico Peiró Cañamás, from Cañamás Cítricos Valencianos, has a similar opinion: “It is not more expensive in monetary terms, but it does imply a change of model and a modernization of the field.” Quico Peiró also highlights the benefits that this new model brings to producers: “Consumers are betting more and more on sustainable, quality and local products. The proximity is given by a European product, the quality is given by the organoleptic characteristics of the Spanish national production, and in terms of sustainability, it is given by the cultivation methods that respect the environment”.
Germán Álvarez, quality manager at Iberiana frucht, mentions the trend followed by the fruit and vegetable consumer: “Right now the consumer is much more aware of health, and demands a healthier and healthier product, so the The trend is going to be an increase in what is ecological and sustainable”.