Call: Thematic Area 3-Agri-food value chain
THEMATIC AREA: Agro-Food value chain
TOPIC: 1.3.1-2023 (RIA) Increasing resilience of agri-food supply chain (cereal) in the MENA region.
TYPE OF ACTION: (RIA) Research and Innovation and Action
TOTAL INDICATIVE AMOUNT ALLOCATED TO THIS CALL: EUR 8.2 million
OPENING DATE: 25 Jan, 2023
Stage 1 Pre-proposals – 22 March, 2023 (17:00h Central European Time (CET)
Stage 2 Full proposals – 6 September, 2023 (17:00h Central European Time (CET)
Today, more than ever, the Mediterranean region is facing unprecedented and interdependent environmental, economic and social challenges that affect food security, health, nutrition, sustainability, and thus, the livelihoods of all people across the Mediterranean region. High population growth rates drive increased food demand in a region already heavily distressed by climate change with low internal food production capacities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed unprecedented stress on food supply chains. As its impacts are still unfolding, some new disruptions may emerge. In the meantime, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has further underlined the fragility of global supply chains and the importance of agricultural self-sufficiency. The MENA region comprises some of the world’s most significant cereals and other primary foodstuffs importers. Many countries in the region import over 30 per cent of their wheat import needs28 from Russia and Ukraine, making them particularly vulnerable to the effects of international food price volatility. Actions are needed to help the Mediterranean food systems become fairer and more resilient – an absolute necessity in overcoming looming threats of climate change, water scarcity, and economic and political conflicts.
According to the FAO publication on “The State of Food and Agriculture 2021 (SOFA)” and policy recommendations on the Impact of the Ukraine-Russia conflict on global food security and related matter, diversity in food sources (domestic production, imports or existing stocks), is a crucial aspect to ensure absorptive capacity in confronting unforeseen shocks. Diversifying agricultural production on farms and within whole regional agricultural landscapes offers adaptation and buffer capacity and makes the agroecosystem more resilient to external stressors.
This call aims to guide evidence-based recommendations for strategies, action plans, best practices and solutions to enhance the Mediterranean food supply chain’s resilience (mainly cereal) to external stressors such as climate shocks and economic and political crises. Under this general challenge, applicants would build on available assessments of current vulnerabilities and market risks from external factors and stressors influencing Mediterranean food systems (biological hazards, extreme weather events, land degradation, economic crises and political conflicts) to generate tailored strategies, roadmaps, and evidence-based recommendations helping to mitigate the adverse effects of these stressors and guide the design and development of recovery efforts that can accelerate progress towards resilient Mediterranean societies.
These recommendations should include concrete solutions (including digital ones) to effectively tackle the causes of food market shocks and food insecurity in the different contexts of the Mediterranean area (and preferably in Southern Mediterranean Countries in times of crisis). Solutions should not be limited to local alternatives to previously imported products but also to boosting agricultural production through integrated cross-cutting approaches to boost agricultural production systems with agroecological practices, better-adapted species, benefiting small-scale farming families, limiting food losses, increasing nutritional security and stabilising prices.
Where it is impossible to replace the import of goods, solutions could be proposed to keep the trade relations within the Mediterranean region, depending less on outside sources. The use of ICT and digital data technology, should be implemented to improve access to information and facilitate the sharing, processing, and analysis of data to create opportunities in agriculture and address these pressing challenges being faced.
When proposing solutions, it is crucial also to consider the environmental aspect and consumer habits and trends. Work should benefit both, the conventional and organic farming sectors. The multisector approach should ensure active involvement and dialogue between relevant stakeholders, producers, smallholders, end-users, and policymakers. Dissemination, networking, training activities and tools should be utilized.
Due to the specific challenge of this topic, and in line with our principles of allowing maximum participation from Southern Mediterranean Countries to foster both North-South and South-South cooperation, the following additional eligibility criteria apply: “In addition to the minimum number of participants set out in the standard eligibility conditions (section 5.1.3), consortia must include at least one independent legal entity established in any of the MPCs29. The places of the establishment of the legal entities must cover at least two different specific regions in the MPCs.
- A better understanding of the short and long-term drivers of change that may affect food systems, and in particular, the cereal supply chain in the MENA region and put food security at risk,
- Better understanding the vulnerabilities, dependencies and critical infrastructures of the food systems, and in particular, the cereals supply chain to improve the cereals supply chain in the MENA countries
- Improved preparedness to deal with risks that may threaten the cereals supply chain by making use of available data and platforms (including weather, climate, biodiversity land/soil degradation, socio-economic, and markets data)
- Streamline local food environments
- Diversification of food sourcing also exploiting digital solutions
- Risk assessment and strategies for a resilient cereal market
- Develop innovative solutions and evidence-based recommendations for strategies, action plans and best practices that policymakers, businesses and food systems can use to enhance the resilience of the food systems and ensure food security.
- Number of identified drivers of change affecting the cereals supply chain
- Number of strategies and action plans were prepared to ensure appropriate cereals supply during unforeseen crises with the local governments in the MENA region
- Number of solutions aiming to diversify food
- Number of training workshops/public events on the markets conducted to streamline local food environments
- Number of solutions aiming to improve the supply chain of cereals
The proposal should indicate linkages to relevant EU policies and objectives in the context of the European Green Deal and relevant EU Missions and Partnerships.
The proposals should indicate their contribution to relevant SDGs and methodology to contribute to reporting SDG indicators.