Traditions are strong in agriculture, since methods of farming have been handed down through the ages and are slow to change in less developed nations. In many cases, this often results in a non-harmonised understanding of food quality and safety, which impedes competitiveness and growth.
Experts in this field know that changes must be implemented. International cooperation and innovation fuel growth and intensify the food sector's competitiveness in Europe. Without bringing about the necessary changes that will remove obstacles to agricultural development, European interests will not have the competitive edge.
But change is in the air. Proof of this is the TOWARDS project, which aims to research, support and promote the migration of networks and associations from a producer and regional focus towards a market and European direction. In a nutshell, the objective of its fork-to-farm approach is to get everyone playing on the same field.
Eyes are on the creation of an Agro-food Web Platform and a Migration toolkit, which intends to bring together intelligence and business information for agri-food networks. TOWARDS is predominantly a call for a market/client-oriented approach, aimed at generating awareness and improving dissemination of knowledge at the national, regional and European level.
HEARING THE VOICE
European consumers are characteristically vocal about their lifestyles, while health and dietary habits are high on their lists of concerns. Inevitably, the food sectors in the EU Member States often fail to see eye-to-eye as regards the growth of demand-led innovation by major food distributors and retailers. The EU must also deal with heightened challenges resulting from lower costbased suppliers and foreign competitors.
Accordingly, TOWARDS is conducting research into what adjustments should be made in the organisational chart so that these challenges are met and best practices can emerge. Experts, such as supply chain analysts and professional advisers, are on hand to provide key information and assistance for removing any obstacles bogging down SMEs and their networks. Retailers, distributors and regional innovation system players are helping assess the migration plans of SME agri-food networks.
BUCKING THE SYSTEM
Modifying the existing network of structures, resources and people, and accelerating innovation can prove taxing. TOWARDS' innovation framework faces the task of altering habits already entrenched in the system. However, project members are keen to implement the changes and achieve the necessary results. The project helps 36 target agro-food SME networks to adopt the changes.
A web technology platform is being created by TOWARDS, as it aims to systematically re-orient producer networks into marketfocused networks. This essentially fuels innovative ideas and stimulates cooperation and knowledge exchange amongst different markets. The project also carries out its work through cooperation among EU Member States, Candidate Countries and sector European networks.
Benchmarking is performed through a number of innovative agro-food sector networks in Europe. This puts into practice the migration plans for those in need of better direction towards the fork-to-farm approach. A professionally managed and businessoriented project, TOWARDS reinforces supply chain capacities across Europe and improves the health and well-being of consumers.
List of Partners
- Instituto Andaluz de Tecnología (Spain)
- Eddleston Innovation (UK)
- Thessaloniki Technology Park (Greece)
- University of Technology and Agriculture (Poland)
- Lietuvos Inovaciju Centras (Lithuania)
- Technology Development and Innovation (Bulgaria)
- Agritec, Research, Breeding & Services (Czech Republic)
- Full title:
- Migrating networks from a producer towards a market orientation within the agro-food sector
- Contract n°:
- Project co-ordinator:
- María Fernández,
Instituto Andaluz de Tecnología
- EC Scientific Officer:
- Judit Krommer,
- EU contribution:
- € 493,000
- Specific Support Action