Towards farms with zero carbon-, waste- and water-footprint. Roadmap for sustainable management strategies for Balkan agricultural sector

Acronym

BalkanROAD
Priority axis Environment
Specific Objective Sustainable Territories
Call 1st Call for Project Proposals
Lead Partner Benaki Phytopathological Institute
Partners "Macedonian" Organic Producers Federation
Agricultural University of Tirana
American Farm School
Association of Agri-Environmental Farmers
Foundation for Research & Technology - Hellas (FORTH), Institute for Mediterranean Studies
Open University of Cyprus
Budget 1.284.723,15


Balkan agricultural sector faces strong challenges in terms of unsustainable resources management and GHGs emissions.Although some countries show positive development indicators,however the continuous economic crisis,the low level of participatory/initiatives undertaking by local/regional authorities and the lower capacity and educational level of Balkan farmers in comparison to other European farmers,inhibit the adoption of innovative approaches and conformation of Balkan agriculture to EU policies, mainly at farm/local level.The project conception shares deeply the willingness of the farmers to protect the environment but also their deep concern to develop their skills,modernize and increase the profitability of their enterprises by reaching EU and international markets.Hence,BalkanROAD will provide tools and policies for economic development,through the adoption of environment protective practices which is a strong motivation for farmers to adopt and implement project’s outcomes.

BalkanROAD has two orientations, which will be combined and integrated into a Balkan Roadmap and are anticipated to open new trade horizons for Balkan agricultural products, boosting also local and national economies; namely:
- to improve Balkan agricultural environment by developing strategies, methodologies and technologies for natural resources conservation (soil, water, air), reduction of GHGs, reduction of waste generation/disposal and increase recycling/reuse ratio in farm systems;
- to develop a common Balkan Protocol for the production of eco-labeled agricultural products, by putting in force sustainable practices throughout the entire production line (i.e from the field to the market) so that the final products will have measurable, comparable and ultimately the lowest possible environmental footprint.

A fully automated, robust but also flexible system (the ROAD tool) for recording, calculating and reporting the environmental footprint of the marketable products will be tested and demonstrated in 3 agricultural pilot enterprises in Greece, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Stakeholders have a strong participatory role. A multidisciplinary group of 15 stakeholders from all 5 five participating countries, operating in agricultural sector will be involved in the project’s actions and cooperate in order to
- identify problems, gaps and propose most appropriate solutions;
- provide the consortium with data for the development of the Roadmap; and
- identify the appropriate policies and governmental instruments for Roadmap adoption by national policies and implementation at local/regional/national level.

To ensure sustainability of project’s outcomes, a broader stakeholders’ network has already been established, namely “ROAD for Balkan Agriculture”, who are ready to follow project’s outcomes, express their point of view during transnational dialogue events and diffuse data and information to the wider agricultural, market and societal networks, in which they belong.
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