The linkages between the Food Hubs and the local urban markets will ensure supply chains (conventional and organic) for both local urban markets 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 global market opportunities for conventional and organic food supply chains).
FOODLAND will foster the coordination and management of the local food supply chains as a whole by developing and implementing organizational and technological innovations and by empowering smallholder farmers and food processors, especially women. The implementation, test and validation of the precision farming systems will be 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 water-saving and micro-irrigation systems will permit to improve the water use efficiency of the system, 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, to follow several dissemination and training activities on micro-irrigation system and good agricultural practices, and to promote cooperation among farmers, thus expanding market opportunities.
As for precision farming systems, they 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. Our actions are to install soil moisture and other sensors like flow meters and set up digital platforms (monitoring centre and mobile applications) allowing smallholder farmers to directly and effectively monitor irrigation/fertigation according to vegetation development stages, control plant diseases, and optimize the harvest period based on information provided to their smartphones.
Regarding the intensified small-scale drying systems, 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.