The linkages between the Food Hubs and the local urban markets will ensure supply of novel food products for both domestic and high-value global markets shall be targeted. Mutual advantage will be gained for consumers (balanced, healthy diets), the small-scale farmers and rural communities at large (reinforcing local food identities and increasing market opportunities for conventional and organic food supply chains).
FoodLAND will develop, test and validate precision farming systems tailored to local contexts and specific conditions and will favour low-cost and low-tech solutions (based on standard components with no challenging technical maintenance). This way, local food operators will increase their knowledge of environmental challenges and technological advancements, their awareness of consumers’ nutritional needs, and their propensity of formulating common strategies of taking joint operative decisions. These open and scalable solutions will improve the quality and quantity of production while reducing food losses.
The precision farming systems will be based on the implementation of local participatory platforms for advising farmers through the data collected by interconnected sensors (Internet of things, IoT). The use of precision farming techniques to improve the efficiency of agricultural production systems through the implementation of precision irrigation/fertigation systems based on locally interconnected soil moisture sensors; monitoring the phytosanitary status of plants through the use of multi-spectral cameras on drones and the implementation of an alert system through the use of mobile applications intended for farmers; the implementation of a precision harvesting systems that aims to optimize the choice of harvesting period by monitoring the plantations in the field using drones; development of smart storage systems addressing both the post-harvest and post-processing phases.
The water-saving and micro-irrigation systems will permit to improve the water use efficiency, reduce the overall costs, and overtake environmental stresses commonly found in arid environments. The overall strategy will be to set up and implement community on-soil gardens equipped with micro-irrigation systems (including drip irrigation/micro-sprinkler and soilless systems) as well as biodegradable mulching and agro-ecological intensification schemes.
Among the intensified small-scale drying systems FoodLAND will develop, an improved Integral Starting Accessibility Drying (ISAD) system will be implemented, which is based on a short time drying process enabling highly effective surface drying (few seconds) followed by an adequate tempering period (few minutes) to even out the internal moisture content field. The new system will enhance the technical performances when compared to the current drying solutions, as it reduces the operating costs and safeguards the final product quality.
Regarding primary food processing, milling processes will be implemented and tested to produce composite flours that combine food raw materials / ingredients resulting in improvement of nutritional and functional properties and optimization of the particle size distribution. Moreover fish smoking, salting and fermenting methods will be developed and validated with the aim of: i) determining the ideal concentrations in the use of liquid smoke for ordinary fish smoking and the effect of smoking regimes on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon and palatability; ii) conducting prevalence studies of halophilic bacteria in salted fish products; iii) testing the efficacy of bacterial cultures in fish fermenting and the appropriate storage methods.
FoodLAND will develop and validate a number of technological innovations targeting a series of secondary processing activities, namely: centrifugation, filtration and clarification of virgin olive oils; local fruit juicing, extraction, and fortification with other ingredients to formulate and nutritionally enrich the novel foods (i.e., baby food, therapeutic food); extrusion and baking for incorporating different types of local materials into ready-to-eat snacks; characterization of the novel raw materials, ingredients, and food products; bio-based packaging aimed to preserve the functional and nutritional properties of the food products, reduce their contamination during storage (and transportation), and increase their marketability and attractiveness; food control and traceability systems ensuring novel products quality, safety, authenticity, and identity as well as providing them with the protection and promotion labelling-based patterns.