Technologies and new business models to increase sustainability in agro-food value chain – Promote quality and reduce environmental footprint in durum wheat cultivation processes
Taking in to account the growing demand for food and the new social and climate challenges, agro-food systems must improve their efficiency by catching solutions in a ‘from field to fork’ perspective. A common agenda amongst agro-food players such as farmers, industries, retailers and consumers, should identify suitable sustainable initiatives to increase food safety and security and limit use of natural resources and their exploitation.
In this context, the Barilla Sustainable Farming Project (BSF) was developed in Italy since 2012 in cooperation with researchers, farmers and their advisors, along with other stakeholders. The main outcomes of the BSF are the “Handbook for the Sustainable Cultivation of Quality Durum Wheat”, a new “sustainability tool” in a decision support system (DSS) called granoduro.net® and the design and use of a set of new durum wheat cultivation contracts. This paper shows by comparative analysis, that the use of an integrated system approach, as facilitated by the BSF project, can provide better performances in terms of cost saving for the farmers, standardization of high product quality for the industry and reduction of the environmental impact for the society, as a whole.
Since the ‘70s, agricultural systems have focused on maximizing productivity by adopting new technologies and modernizing production techniques, such as using high-yield plant varieties, monoculture, mechanization and agrochemicals (1, 2). This intensive model has accelerated natural resources exploitation, compromising the biosphere regeneration capacity and, indirectly, affecting future agricultural productivity (3).
Looking at the increasing concerns in the society regarding the environment, food safety and food security, these issues are increasingly acknowledged by international organizations, politicians and the civil society, now called to stimulate a change in food production and consumption patterns (4). Reaching sustainable agricultural systems is recognized as one of the most important drivers to guarantee global food availability in the future (5, 6).
In response to these global challenges, there is increased awareness about the urgency to enhance resilience and sustainability of the agricultural systems, as well as to mitigate the environmental impact of food production and distribution at a global scale (7). Accordi ...