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Innovation, a key tool to meet the objectives of the Green Deal for viticulture in European regions

As part of the round of webinars organised by the Assembly of European Wine Regions (AREV) for 2021, today it was the turn of innovation in viticulture as a tool to meet the objectives set by the Green Deal, including the achievement of climate neutrality by 2035.  During this event, representatives of the regional agricultural sector with competences in viticulture, MEPs, and members of scientific bodies such as GAIA EPICHEREIN (Greece), Istituto di Genomica Applicata (IGA – Italy) or the FARM EUROPE think tank, have reflected aloud, shown their vision and proposed different effective initiatives to advance in this area, within the wine sector.

Inaugurated by Francisco Martínez Arroyo.  Secretary General of the AREV and Regional Minister for Agriculture, Water and Rural Development in Castilla-La Mancha and the MEP and Co-President of the Parliamentary Intergroup on Wine, Spirits and Quality Food, Irène Tolleret, both stressed the importance of research, innovation to fight against climate change and disasters, as well as the political will in the work to be done for a good understanding between the Commission, the European Parliament, and the wine regions.

The Green Deal obliges agriculture to achieve climate neutrality by 2035 and to take on part of the emissions of other sectors.  In this respect, AREV, sharing these ambitious climate and environmental objectives, is committed to developing viticulture capable of responding to climate and environmental challenges, but the question remains how to achieve this effectively for the good of the European Union, its citizens, and all its regions.

The European Commission’s “Farm to Fork” and “Biodiversity” strategies propose to reduce the use of pesticides by 50% and fertilisers by 20% by 2030, suggesting that 25% of land should be under organic farming and that landscape elements with high agricultural diversity should account for 10% of agricultural land.

During the webinar, Antonella Rossetti, senior policy advisor of the think tank Farm Europe presented the work done by this organisation on the importance of implementing precision viticulture.

Gabriele di Gaspero, founder and senior research scientist at the Istituto di Genomica Applicata (IGA – Italy), gave a presentation on the contribution of genetic sources to mitigate the impacts of climate change and provide effective solutions.  He also recalled the importance of research to increase the resilience of existing varieties and the promise of new varieties.

Elli Tsiforou, Director General of GAIA EPICHEREIN and President of the COGECA Cooperative Coordination Committee, then presented the work carried out by this organisation in the field of precision agriculture and shared innovation, showing the results in terms of reduced input consumption and increased crop production through controlled advice using technology a source of data.  He also stressed the need for strong support from European regions and Europe to enable European viticulture to make these advances.

Andreas Schneider, member of the cabinet of the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, said emphatically that innovation is the solution for viticulture to meet the challenges set by the Green Deal. He also emphasised that rather than precision agriculture, smart agriculture should be applied, highlighting the budget items allocated in the new CAP for eco-schemes and the possible implementation of these ICT technologies on farms.

Finally, MEP Christophe Hansen, in his closing remarks, recalled that to meet the climate and environmental challenges of the Green Deal, which calls on agriculture to achieve climate neutrality by 2035 and to take over part of the emissions of other sectors, it is essential, in addition to implementing precision or intelligent viticulture, to have adequate funding measures for innovation.

IInnovation in viticulture and the Green Deal

Given the objectives set by the Green Deal, which are not debatable, it is a question of rethinking how to achieve them and rejecting the logic of sacrifice that would mean for sectors such as viticulture, winegrowers and all the socio-economic activity around it, the implementation of 25% of the areas in organic farming and the dedication of 10% of the agricultural areas as elements of the landscape with high agricultural diversity.

Viticulture is a sector of excellence, of quality, which dynamises our territories, revives social links, forms part of our culture, of our landscape and brings wealth to our territories. Viticulture must therefore respond to these challenges without losing productivity, quality and workforce.

Innovation is the key response to these challenges. Innovation does not mean renouncing tradition and territory. Innovation involves the use of precision agriculture, digital tools that reduce inputs (water, pesticides and fertilisers), new genetic techniques to combat vine diseases and allow the use of fewer chemicals.

The role that AREV intends to play more than ever is to network best practices, to circulate information between wine-growing regions, to encourage producers, associations, local authorities and wine industry players to innovate, to use what research and the digital world have to offer to make viticulture the sector best able to respond to climate challenges.

Agronomic practices, precision agriculture, digitalisation and new genetic techniques are all possible responses to the climate challenge. To advance innovation, it is essential that European wine-growing regions pool their will and share their knowledge.

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS

This webinar organised by the AREV has counted with a cast of magnificent speakers, formed by: 

Francisco Martínez Arroyo, Secretary General of AREV and Regional Minister for Agriculture, Water and Rural Development in Castilla-La Mancha (Spain).

Irène Tolleret, Member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe).

Antonella Rossetti. Senior Policy Advisor, Think Tank FARM EUROPE.
Slides: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dhz9bAL-JalM1x7toNXVuod9HJibtgVS/view?usp=sharing

Antonella Rossetti. Senior Policy Advisor, Think Tank FARM EUROPE.
Slides: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dhz9bAL-JalM1x7toNXVuod9HJibtgVS/view?usp=sharing

Gabriele di Gaspero. Founder and Senior Research Scientist. Istituto di Genomica Applicata (Italy).
Slides: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FfoBMgzMcPO6DZ9ABAmu74t7CuauNsYV/view?usp=sharing

Elli Tsiforou. Managing Director of GAIA EPICHEIREIN and Chair of COGECA’s Co-operative Co-ordination Committee. GAIA EPICHEIREIN is a broad coalition of agricultural cooperatives and farmers who have joined with partners from the IT and banking sectors, sharing a common vision of a more sustainable and competitive Greek agriculture based on knowledge and innovation.
Slides: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1DzLbLaBDrE-Mlr1ZBIbZrFi8JuS2YenI/view?usp=sharing

Andreas Schneider. Member of the Cabinet of the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

Christophe Hansen. Member of the European Parliament. Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats).