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Unveiling Synergies: A Triad of Innovation in Agriculture

Exploring the Future of Agriculture: FrontAg Nexus, CIPROMED, and Advagromed Collaborative Webinar

In a remarkable collaboration, FrontAg Nexus, CIPROMED, and Advagromed projects united to explore the possibilities of insect farming and aquaponics. The webinar, held on February 27th, 2024, attracted over 50 participants and marked a crucial step toward sustainable and circular agricultural practices.

A Meeting point of Leading Initiatives

FrontAg Nexus, a collaborative project aimed at addressing the challenges of water scarcity and climate change in the Mediterranean Region through sustainable frontier agriculture systems, collaborated with CIPROMED and Advagromed to provide a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and inspiration. The webinar showcased the unique contribution of each project, adding diverse perspectives to the broader agricultural front.

Insights from Impactful Presentations

The event featured engaging presentations, each shedding light on different facets of the agricultural landscape.

This presentation focused on the sustainable benefits of using insects as feed and food, highlighting their role in reducing the environmental impact compared to traditional feed sources, like fish meal. It explored the efficiency of insects in converting waste into protein, the lifecycle of specific species suitable for feed productions, and the potential of insect by-products in enhancing animal and human health. The regulatory environment and the economic advantages of insect farming within a circular economy framework were also covered. 

Insects represent a leap towards sustainability, transforming waste into nutrient-rich food and feed, significantly reducing our ecological footprint and promoting a circular economy.”  Sara Belleza Oddon, Type A Researcher, University of Turin. 

The second presentation was entitled as aquaponics as a multisolver within the FrontAg Nexus project. During the presentation, it was explained aquaponics as a sustainable agricultural method combining aquaculture and hydroponics in a closed-loop system, emphasising its lower water consumption and pollutant discharge. Highlighting the nitrogen cycle’s central role, various aquaponic systems and their benefits were detailed, including nutrient recycling and reduced water usage. In addition, the challenges and solutions in the Mediterranean region were discussed, particularly focusing on electricity reliability, water supply and sustainable fish feed alternatives like insect farming.

“Multisolvers like aquaponics address several global challenges simultaneously, showcasing their crucial role in sustainable food production and resource conservation.”  Michael Reuter, CEO, aquaponik manufaktur GmbH

Black Soldier Fly larvae in fish feed formulation for aquaponics systems, emphasising sustainable protein sources was explored. Highlighting the insect’s life cycle, nutritional content, and benefits for organic waste reduction and soil nutrition, an experiment with African catfish demonstrating the larvae’s effectiveness in replacing traditional fishmeal, with no significant impact on water quality or fish growth was presented. It also examined the efficacy of water from these systems in growing vegetables, suggesting a holistic approach to aquaponics. 

“Incorporating Black Soldier Fly larvae into fish feed offers a sustainable, cost-effective solution for aquaponics, supporting both fish growth and vegetable production without compromising water quality” Dr. Collins K Mweresa, Egerton University, Kenya

CIPROMED project aims at creating sustainable food and feed through the circular utilisation of alternative proteins in the Mediterranean. Emphasising the global resilience on a narrow range of food species, the project’s focus on diversifying protein sources to enhance food security was highlighted. CIPROMED explores the potential of microalgae, legumes, insects, and fermentation processes, with the goal of reducing Europe’s dependence on imported proteins and fostering local production methods.

“We don’t want to import the vast majority of our proteins from abroad…the EU demand is to go for efficient, available, and mostly locally produced alternative protein sources.” Christos G. Athanassiou, Laboratory of Entomology and Agricultural Zoology, Department of Agriculture, Crop Production and Rural Environment, University of Thessaly, Greece

Advagromed Project focuses on utilising agricultural by-products to feed insect larvae, which are then used as feed for local poultry breeds. This approach embodies a circular economy model, aiming to produce high quality products while minimising waste. The project involves partners from across the EU and Morocco, working on various aspects from insect rearing to evaluating the impact on poultry performance and product quality. 

“We aim to transform waste into value, achieving sustainability in farming through innovative feeding strategies”  Ilaria Biasate, Type B Researcher, University of Turin

The FrontAg Nexus was introduced during the joint webinar. The project integrates hydroponics, aquaponic, insect farming, and other innovative practices under the umbrella of frontier agriculture. Emphasising a holistic approach to managing the water, energy, food, and ecosystem (WEFE) Nexus, FrontAg Nexus aims to demonstrate the socio-economic and ecological benefits of sustainable agriculture practices. 

“We are not just talking about solutions; we are talking about promises for a sustainable future, addressing pressing challenges such as food security while alleviating pressure on scarce resources.” Ismini Savvaidou, Project Manager, Foodscale Hub.

Engaging Dialogue and Anticipation for the Future

The webinar became a hub of knowledge exchange as professionals, researchers, and enthusiasts engaged in meaningful discussions. Attendees explored the latest developments, shared insights, and collectively envisioned the future of agriculture.

Future Webinar Series and Collaborations

As the success of this debut webinar resonates, the triad of projects has exciting plans for the future. Anticipation grows for a series of webinars that promise to reveal more innovations and sustainable practices in the field of agriculture. 

We extend our gratitude to all participants who attended this webinar on Insect Farming and Aquaponics, contributing to the advancement of sustainable agriculture. Your presence greatly enriched the event, and we appreciate your valuable contributions.

Disclaimer

This publication reflects the views of the author only. The European Commission and PRIMA Foundation cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

This project (GA n° [2242]) is part of the PRIMA programme supported by the European Union.

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