Centers of Vocational Excellence in Smart Farming and Sustainable Food Systems
AGRIFOOD4FUTURE is a world-class ERASMUS+ initiative aimed at building VET skills and educational programs addressing the needs of the “agriculture of the future”. By bringing together leading European actors from VET-academia-research-business across regions with tradition in the agri-food (yet lagging in new practices adoption), we aim at building centres of vocational excellence able to respond to existing and emerging needs in the sector, while targeting the key priorities of the sector: digitalization, decarbonization and sustainability.
Scientists, policymakers, and open-visioned agrifood players have noted the transformative potential of new and emerging agriculture practices, such as climate-smart agriculture, smart farming, precision agriculture, regenerative and organic practices, NEXUS-based approach to agri-food, etc., but found difficulties to implement it at large scales. Barriers such as the insufficient level of awareness, soft and technical skills, and limited entrepreneurial mindset of, usually, more conservative farming professionals have been inhibitors of change.
Aligned with the need to write new narratives for the “agriculture of the future” we aim to implement and develop vocational training and educational system from low to higher EQF levels, including lifelong learning tools for farmer advisors, SMEs, and agro-food players. AGRIFOOD4FUTURE will provide them with exemplary best practices and advances in the sector. It will equip them with technical, soft, and entrepreneurial skills towards new ventures and innovative mindset. It will foster perception change and acceptance of agro-food sector as a “bright” vocational career option, while preparing the sector for adoption of smart, advanced, and sustainable practices.
Objectives of the project
- Contribute to the transformation of the agri-food sector towards digitalisation, decarbonisation, and sustainability.
- Support the large-scale implementation of new and emerging agriculture practices, such as climate-smart agriculture, precision agriculture, regenerative and organic practices
- Provide the necessary soft and technical skills, raising awareness, and cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset for the “agriculture of the future” for young people and workers in the agri-food sector.
Expected Main Results
- Analysis of needs at different levels before the definition of the training programmes, encompassing three aspects: skills gaps in workers, skills requested by the labour market and the VET ecosystem weaknesses
- Based on analysis, the creation of training offers a key element which is the transmission to the learners of soft and digital skills and knowledge related to innovation, sustainability, and green entrepreneurship.
- Development of a joint EQF level 3-5 program for technicians in smart farming and environmental sustainability in the food system.
- Set-up of a transnational joint Master of Science, and development of Master and PhD training courses.
- Design of a lifelong learning programme for farmers, on smart agriculture and digital farming, climate smart-farming and new sustainable practices among others.
- Development of an 18–24-month capacity-building program for agri-food SMEs and farmers.
- Establishment of work-based learning and visits, for example through a network of exemplary farms on regenerative farming practices as an instrument for peer-to-peer learning and internships, an open innovation test farm program for start-ups, farmers, and VET students
The project work foresees the following work packages:
WP1 Project management and coordination
WP2 Skills needs assessment & preparatory work: state-of-the-art & knowledge base
WP3 Cooperation, networking, and partnership building
WP4 Development of innovative teaching and training programmes in smart farming and sustainable food systems
WP5 Governance, funding and sustainability post-project
WP6 Dissemination, follow-up, and VET promotion towards excellence
The following activities are included in the main WPs 2-5:
Action #1: Skills gaps intelligence & assessment of market needs in smart farming and sustainable food systems (WP2)
Action #2: Design a training programme for technicians in smart farming and environmental sustainability in the food system (EQF level 3-5) (WP4)
Action #3: Development of a transnational joint Master of Science, and Master and PhD training courses (EQF level 6-9) (WP4)
Action #4: Design of a farmer’s advisors training programme (lifelong learning level) (WP4)
Action #5: Develop a capacity-building program for agrifood SMEs and farmers (WP4)
Action #6: Establish a network of lighthouse farms on regenerative farming practices as an instrument for peer-to-peer learning and internships (WP3)
Action #7: Application & practical demonstration of smart farming tools, including living labs, demo days and COVE site/farm visits (WP3)
Action #8: Develop an open innovation test farm program for startups, farmers, and VET students (WP3)
Action #9: Design and delivery of an international summer school (Student training and VET promotion) (WP6)
Action #10: Design and implementation of Agrofood Government & VET Academy towards the improvement of the VET and innovation ecosystem in agro-food sector (WP5)
Funding Programme: ERASMUS-EDU-2022-PEX-COVE (Partnership for Excellence – Centres of Vocational Excellence)
Duration: 06/2023 – 05/2027, 48 months
Budget: 3.385.247,00 €
Countries: Italy, Germany, Greece, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal
- Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore – UCSC (Leader – Italy)
- AKMI (Greece)
- AGENSO (Greece)
- ELGO-DIMITRA (Greece)
- Agrifood Clust-ER (Italy)
- Phorma Mentis – PHM (Italy)
- FEMAC (Spain)
- CESUR (Spain)
- Malaga Tech Park – PTA (Spain)
- University of Porto – GreenUPorto – FCUP (Portugal)
- ISQ (Portugal)
- Food4Sustainability CoLab (Portugal)
- Building Global Innovators – BGI (Portugal)
- BGT – Business, Government, Technology (Belgium)
- INAGRO (Belgium)
- VIVES (Belgium)
- EVBB (Belgium)
- BK Consult GmbH (Germany)
- TTA – Trama Tecno Ambiental (Spain)
- AgroParis Tech (France)
- Arvalis (France)
- Cuma (France)
- Valorial (France)
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