AURORA focuses on the quality, safety and traceability issues in the agri-food chain and aims to create a European dynamic around these topics.
After a first roadshow in Varsaw last December, we were on our way to Spain for the 2nd step of the AURORA’s journey. From 15 to 17 February, we were the guests of OnTech , the innovation cluster of digital and biotech technologies in Andalousia, to discover the agrifood ecosystem between Malaga and Granada.
Andalucía accounts for almost half of national exports of fresh fruits and vegetables, ahead of Valencia and Murcia, and the Almeria area represent 50% of it. By products, strawberries lead sales, followed by sweet peppers, and tomatoes but Andalucia is also a producer of tropical fruits in open-field : Avocado, Mango and Cherimoya.
We first discovered a rich ecosystem of innovation at the Foro Transfiere in Malaga, which brings together R&D + I structures, technology transfer clusters and some of Spain’s innovative companies. Note by the way, the interesting international fair infoAGRO to take place in Almeria next 10 – 12 May, centered on under-shelter and greenhouse F&V production and associated industries (green house technologies, irrigation systems, biosolutions, etc.). Certainly worth a visit !
At Grupo la Cana, the conveyor lines (Maaf Roda by the way) are designed to sort products by grade and quality. The fruit and vegetables are sent directly throughout Europe, taking into account the maturity and the shelf life of the products, and the duration of transport. Active packaging incorporating preservative diffusers is not yet considered mature enough to be used operationally. Upstream, R&D work is underway to determine with NIRS the optimal date for avocados harvesting according to their maturity, to predict tomato yields and to predict the shelf life of fruits and vegetables to avoid losses. A final biodiversity issue is the introduction of pollinators to improve fertilisation of avocado and mango flowers. In the Motrill region, water is available in quantity due to the proximity of the Sierra Nevada, but managed sparingly with dripping irrigation systems.
Digital technologies, the speciality of the University of Granada’s ICT research centre (CITIC-UGR), are at the heart of innovation, but there is also room for biotech.
This is illustrated by Domca, an R&D performing SME specialising in the development of additives and ingredients for the agriculture and food industry. The company uses plant extracts (e.g. garlic) and biotech-made compounds for the production of natural ingredients for human health (natural food supplement) or livestock (alternative to antibiotics), or to produce food preservation coatings and biocontrol products for agriculture.
Finally, the challenges seemed to be notably upstream in the food chain to produce quality raw-products in a sustainable manner with good traceability. Don’t miss the AURORA step #3 organised by Valorial next 15-17 March during the CFIA that will adress food processing innovation issues downstream in the value chain.
Many thanks, Emilio and Fatima for this very inspiring trip !
Launched in 2022, AURORA is a pioneering and interdisciplinary programme aimed at strengthening cluster management excellence, facilitate exchanges and strategic partnering between clusters and specialised eco-systems and cities across Europe by fostering the development of European Strategic Cluster Partnership for Cluster Excellence Activities. It is co-funded from the European Union’s COSME Programme.
Project Duration: 01.02.2022 – 31.01.2024
Published on Mar 01, 2023