Farmers are in the forefront against climate change: this is what emerged from the presentation of the european project GECO2, held at Macfrut international fair, in the stand of Apofruit Italy. The large-scale fruit and vegetable co-operative is part of the experimentation, since it supplies the know-how of technicians and members, explained in his opening speech the president Mirco Zanotti, accompanied by agronomist Alberto Aldini.
GECO2’s purpose is to build a voluntary market of carbon credits aimed at the fruit and vegetable sector. Thanks to new and more sustainable farming practises – this is the idea — it is possible to offset a part of greenhouse gas emissions, through the capture and storage of CO2 in soil and biomass.
These farmers’ assets can be valued and the resulting credits sold to other companies interested in achieving carbon neutrality and environmental labelling for their products.
In his conclusions Councillor Mammi highlighted that the project reinforces the interest of the agricultural supply chain in fighting climate change and the many actions taken accordingly. Sustainability and productivity will keep walking together as long as investements on technology will be sustained, giving businesses and farmers the economic, strategic and research tools they need to mitigate the climatic emergency. Just like the GECO2 project intends to do.
The round table titled “Agriculture in the forefront against climate change, the role of agri-food co-operation” raised an animated debate. Speakers included Ernesto Fornari, general manager of Apofruit Italia, Cristian Maretti, president of Legacoop Agroalimentare Italy, Vincenzo Verrastro, scientific administrator of CIHEAM Bari, Matteo Marchi, agriculture manager of Legacoop Romagna and Antonio Volta, data scientist at Arpae Emilia-Romagna.
According to Ernesto Fornari, general manager of Apofruit: «GECO2 is an interesting and innovative project, which goes along perfectly with the policies Apofruit has been pursuing and trying to encourage since the very beginning. It is crucial to explain the prospectives of this project and how some farming practises can help soil to regenerate and fight climate change, using practises that not only benefit the environment, but even consumers and the whole supply chain».
Cristian Maretti, presidente di Legacoop Agroalimentare nazionale, holds the same opinion: «Referring to Apofruit was natural, in the birth of this project, since our long and mutual collaboration and understanding. We are confident that co-operatives will consider deeply the purchase of carbon credits. It will be essential to engage the whole supply chain together with the consumers, in order to sustain the project and give it a leg up».
«Agriculture is being called upon to play its part in the fight against climate change, therefore agricultural and industrial co-operation shall act first », concluded Matteo Marchi, agri-food manager of Legacoop Romagna.
«If a farmer could measure and value his CO2 storage activities he would be encouraged to support increasingly the fight against climate change», project manager Antonio Cinti had explained in his speech. «Processing companies would become more aware about their emissions and could exploit credits as a marketing lever to increase the added value of their products. Finally, local communities could enjoy better environmental conditions and the availability of more eco-friendly products, both fresh and processed. We expect a win-win situation».
GECO2 is financed by the Interreg Italy-Croatia programme of EU. It develops in the adriatic regions of Italy and Croatia. There are eight partners. Project leader is ARPAE, the Regional Agency for Prevention, Environment and Energy of Emilia-Romagna, Italy. The other partners are CIHEAM Bari, Molise Region, Marche Region, Rera sd for coordination and development of Split Dalmatia County, Agrra – Zadar (Zara) County rural development agency, Dubrovnik Neretva Region and Legacoop Romagna.