1st Regional RUSTICA workshop in Flanders on the 18th of October 2021!

Flanders was the first RUSTICA region to organise a multi-stakeholder workshop with about 20 attendees involved in different parts of the bio-based fertiliser (BBF) value chain including farmers association, fertiliser companies, technology providers, policymakers and research organisations.

The workshop was hosted by Eigen Vermogen van het Instituut voor Landbouw- en Visserijonderzoek (EV ILVO).

The workshop day started at 9 o’clock with an introduction to the goals of the Horizon 2020 RUSTICA project. Next, attendees could network for the first time with each other during a speed dating exercise. After being warmed up to the project, stakeholders were asked what ideal outcomes of the RUSTICA project in the short or long term could be for them. In the short term, answers related to enhanced networking opportunities throughout the value chain, solutions for technical and legal issues related to the production and use of BBF and expanding scientific and technological knowledge on the topic. In the long term, more circularity in the agricultural sector, increased soil quality, BBF commercialisation opportunities, enhanced public awareness on bio-based alternatives and broadening the scope of the results beyond the fruit and vegetable waste streams were mentioned as ideal outcomes. Then, attendees were asked to review a summarised market analysis of the Flemish region with respect to waste-streams, BBF potential, existing actors, competition and the agricultural sector’s innovation orientation. Some interesting points were raised, for example, on regulations and certification that complicates the use of waste streams, the feasibility of the transportation of waste streams and on leaving the waste (partly) on the field as a practice. Stakeholders seemed mostly concerned about the economic benefit for potential waste stream suppliers. However, most thought there is definitely room to further explore the possibilities of revalorising fruit and vegetable waste streams in Flanders.

Stakeholders were then asked to give input on the characteristics of a possible new BBF blend or the BBF stakeholder network drafted beforehand for Flanders by Flemish RUSTICA partners.

Taking it a step further, stakeholders were divided into three groups to discuss factors that influence the future of BBF in Flanders. After lunch, many took it as another opportunity to network, we combined these factors, which resulted in the formulation of three main drivers for the future of BBF: 1) Public sustainability awareness; 2) The price of BBF compared to the price of current fertilisers on the market; 3) Development of affordable and innovative technologies to develop BBF.

Most stakeholders evaluated the workshop as interesting for them and gave specific and practical input to take into account for further steps in the project and for future workshops. To conclude the workshop, stakeholders were invited to visit the ILVO laboratory that will measure BBF (ingredients) and an organic field experiment on the use of fertiliser on leek.

The Flemish RUSTICA-partners are grateful for all the rich contributions made by external stakeholders during the workshop!

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