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The benefits of agroecological standards for farmers of field crops in the Danube basin

During April 10-11, 2023, in Tulcea, the Bio Danubius cluster, which has meanwhile become a European Innovation Center, held the first discussions on the application of private certified voluntary standards for agroecology, especially in the field crops. The discussion group was held within the Agroecology-TRANSECT project, its general objective being to support the achievement of agroecological objectives through innovation centers. The innovation center selected in the project financed by the European Commission is Bio Danubius. This project received funding from the European Union through the Horizon Europe program under the grant agreement and runs from September 2022 to February 2026.

In this discussion group led by Bio Danubius, we investigate the key drivers and barriers to achieve indicator-based agroecological standards that contribute to the overall goal of combating climate change. The discussions will identify concerns about the development of the scheme and the support that farms would like to receive for their decision-making.

The topics addressed during the event were: information on European projects in agroecology and the place of IH Bio Danubius in the Agroecology-TRANSECT project; presentation of possible indicators focused on decarbonization; institutional and operational aspects regarding the scheme organizer and process; expressions of interest for the development of the scheme.

Wet areas suitable for cereal crops along the Danube can become the first agroecological zone in Romania. We were particularly concerned with analyzing how we will be able to apply the recommendations of the original SR 13595 agroecological standard, launched last year with the contribution of Inter-Bio and Spiru Haret University, through the openings offered by the Agroecology-TRANSECT project, a project with the involvement of some prestigious institutes and universities from Europe. As we noted previously, the Standard can be used as a reference for certification and is applicable to organically certified organizations that want to apply the principles of agroecology, but it can also be applied by organizations undergoing organic certification that want to apply the principles of agroecology. Since the Standard includes a normative annex with forms and indicators for recording evidence of meeting the requirements, we interacted with farmers to see which indicators to adopt. In fact, what we do is a living laboratory in which we look for solutions during the project and after”, said Costin Lianu, project coordinator, general director of USH Pro Business.

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