Cereal breeders from several EU Member States where organic seed production and use is relatively underdeveloped were given a rare opportunity to learn from Italian experiences and initiatives.
Rete Semirurali, one of the Italian partners of the LIVESEED project organised a colourful program. Participants of the cross-visit checked out the Italian Ministry of Agriculture’s Research Agency’s comparative field trials. These trials cover all Italian and German registered bread wheat CCP for evaluation by the expert group of the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission (DG SANTE). This evaluation is part of the implementation of the temporary experiment on marketing of cereal populations (2014/150 EU). It was particularly interesting for the group to understand the procedure and the benefits of participating in temporary experiments. It enables them to consider the registration of populations from their own Member States. The deadline of the latest upcoming application of population registration is 31 December 2019 (EU) 2018/1519).
Among others, participants learned from a mixed farm that uses biodynamic methods in their production of cereals. The farm grows cereals in rotation with legumes, vegetables, forage and pastures. They also got acquainted with Italian approaches to leading a community seed bank holding local varieties and populations of cereals. Lastly, participants exchanged with the largest vegetable seed producing operator in the country that has a new dedicated organic processing plant.
The intensive program allowed the participants to get acquainted with different organisational models for producing, multiplying, storing and sharing organic seeds, with setting up participatory research under organic and low-input conditions, and involving further stakeholders (bakers, millers, researchers, farmers, health professionals) in the breeding of cereal varieties. A knowledge sharing workshop on Common bunt (Tilletia caries) management under organic conditions with Italian farmers and experts from other EU countries provided valuable insights for cereal experts from countries where the pathogens have lately started to affect populations.
Participants remain ever grateful for RSR, CREA-DC, the C.A.C. cooperative, Andreea (Podere Santa Croce), Antonio (Arcoiris), and the Floriddia’s farm for their incredible hospitality and for the highly intensive learning experience!