RegenerAction 2022: The value of local supply chains, true guardians of the territory and biodiversity

📢 Giving voice and value to the agri-food chains, those capable of regenerating the land and its diversity, capable of producing healthy and nutritious food, rooted in the peculiarities and care of the territory, is one of the greatest challenges of the current agri-food system, still largely characterized by highly extractive, intensive, extensive and standardized models.

âť— We are used to thinking of food as an element whose only use is our nourishment. Yet, behind every single food lies a whole ecosystem made of people and hard work, made of knowledge and traditions, local crops and endemic biodiversity - those behind valuable ecosystem services- made of expectations, adaptations, risks, care; relationships that from the earth are justified in the connection with the local territory through the agri-food chains.

Forgetting this complexity is what is leading us to literally consume our Planet, as demonstrated by the inexorable advance of’Earth Overshoot Day"Feed" food insecurity, environmental degradation, resource extraction, climate disasters and food injustice - all aspects that lead to collective impoverishment and ultimately harm human health and survival.

This indissoluble link between the health of our ecosystem and the supply chains is made even more evident by contemporary events: a pandemic that has destabilized the entire agri-food system, the war in Ukraine that has Global raw material prices soarthe environmental and climate crisis, which is hitting the agro-food sector hard, especially the Italian and Mediterranean.

Especially in our country, where the food industry is backbone of Italian GDPPreserving the local supply chains together with small and very small farms, the true driving force of the Italian economy, is crucial. They are in fact the undisputed protagonists in feeding and safeguarding local ecosystems, in preserving biodiversity and ancient or forgotten crops, avoiding the genetic erosion started in the last sixty years and ensuring a greater resilience and territorial identity of the food produced. It is always the small local chains that support the Italian economy of denominations that boasts the world record for the number of products certified with 841 DOP, IGP, STG - a lever that, by giving value to the territory, are relaunching the national economy of quality and care abroad, as demonstrated by the leap in Italian exports in the last two years despite the pandemic crisis.

To understand deeply that working the earth means having a direct relationship with life that spreads and thrives even where hidden, starting from underground, brings with it an invaluable value: to help restore the lost relationships between human beings. Agriculture and in particular forms of regenerative agriculture represent today a way to hold together the community and the countries inhabited by it, to cultivate the social fabric as well as the land and ward off the dangers of abandonment and depopulation, especially of the small municipalities of the internal and mountain areas. Ties that unite the community, which strengthen the relations between employers and employees, but also between producers and consumers.

In light of the above, it is not difficult to imagine why Mediterranean diet has such an important role in maintaining and establishing a balance that allows the chain to survive but even more to allow the context in which it is articulated to be healthy and prolific in its turn. Future Food is committed to protecting the Mediterranean basin, a region rich in biodiversity and products whose enhancement is a duty.

🇪🇺 The European Union is committed to preserving the quality of the agri-food supply chains through several action plans. One of these is the strategy Farm to Fork. With the aim of reducing the overall environmental footprint of the food system and improving the quality of people’s nutrition, the strategy focuses on shortening the distances between consumers and producers, thus facilitating the accessibility of healthy and sustainable food options. . For this reason, its priorities include redefining production and distribution methods to make them more sustainable and to encourage circular production, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)focusing on respect for human and environmental rights in global value chains. In this context, the proposal to adopt a legislative framework for sustainable food systems by the end of 2023 as an integral part of the Farm to Fork Strategy could further strengthen the role of supply chains in the green transition, in particular given the objective of standardising European and national policies to increase resilience.

The issue of supply chains is also central in the definition of trade policies and instruments of international cooperation, especially in the light of the Russian-Ukrainian conflictpromoting a series of short- and medium-term actions to address the rise in prices of essential raw materials, in order to protect farmers and consumers in the European Union.

🌱 It is not possible to implement regenerative models of food production without supporting, with suitable food policies but also with the right prices, the food produced by those who, in the forefront, they strive to ensure that the latter is the result of a perfect balance between man, nature, territory and diversity.

To make this possible, one of the most important initiatives implemented by the Future Food Institute was the creation, in collaboration with FAO and UNIDO ITPO Italy, of a Coalition dedicated to Mediterranean supply chainswhich was created with the aim of accelerating the ecological transition of global agri-food systems, developing innovative solutions and actively supporting the most sensitive sectors of the Mediterranean agricultural sector. Born within the conference Reshaping Agri-food Systems to build back better and launched at the G20 in Matera, it is a coalition that comes to life thanks to a deep collaboration between institutions and the private sector, including the Mediterranean Diet Studies Center "Angelo Vassallo", GenerationAG (Greece) and KMZero (Spain) to actively support the most sensitive sectors of the Mediterranean agricultural sector, local institutions and small farmers.

Preserving and protecting Italy’s iconic food chains is also an integral part of the Future Food Institute’s work of dissemination and dissemination. From International Week of Italian Cuisine in the World atanniversary of the Mediterranean Diet, until the Food is a Conversation” – special edition RegenerAction, giving power and relevance to the true heroes of the ecological transition, also means giving voice to the representatives of the Italian supply chains and consortia of protection of PDO and PGI products.

These are meetings that since the last Living Lab of the Future Food opened in Pollica - the Paideia Campus – find their maximum value. The campus is a place where tradition meets an extraordinary melting-pot of diversity, where consortia of Campania’s regional identity meet and pass through, such as Mozzarella di Bufala Campana, Olio di Oliva or Pasta di Gragnano, Cooperatives, farmers, fishermen, careful breeders, networks of regenerative farmers, such as Rareche, first network of regenerative farmers and Biodistretto. With an area covering an area of 3,196 sq km, 36 municipalities, 400 organic farms oriented to multifunctionality, the Organic District of Cilento represents a perfect example of an application of regenerative action extended and applied to the entire territory: starting from organic and regenerative agriculture, the focus is to aggregate the will of farmers, trade associations, but also universities, local municipalities and all actors that have a direct and indirect relationship with sustainable development of the territory. A rigener-action that requires awareness and active participation and that cannot be lasting without being permeated through local territories and their community.

This is why from Pollica meeting the ambassadors of the Mediterranean diet and its supply chains is an integral part of the training program offered to students and professors, in our Boot Camp, in work school alternation programs, in moments of rediscovered conviviality through the products and protagonists of the iconic Mediterranean chains. But also through long-term programs: with the Pollica 2050 project, the goal is to make the Cilento the ideal place to prototype innovative models for the transformation of food systems, through the reuse of abandoned land that will allow to return to the village its ancient beauty and give the opportunity to experiment with new production models such as regenerative agriculture.

Supporting these actors in the ecological and digital transition is therefore crucial to ensure resilient, biodiverse and regenerative agri-food system. For this reason, the theme of supply chains will also be central in the European Agrifood Week, which will be held in Pollica starting next week. We will talk about supply chain and distribution, new production paradigms for economic regeneration, the Italian ecosystem in agri-tech but we will also deepen some European strategies, such as Farm to Fork and support to local supply chains. But we will also have among us exceptional guests such as the Consorzio Protezione Sughereti Campania and Luciana Cipriani founder of Natura Humana and undisputed expert of carob, spontaneous plant of the Mediterranean basin, used since ancient times by Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and recently revalued by the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry.

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