At first glance, innovation and agriculture seem to be two completely opposite terms. But traditional agricultural activity can be combined with technology and provide solutions for the future. In a context where the environment is at the heart of initiatives, it is necessary to provide solutions in this direction. In the agricultural sector, the difficulty of certain tasks is also highlighted. France is indeed the first European agricultural country according to an INSEE study carried out in 2018.
A programme that highlights agriculture, in the face of major societal challenges
This is how the European DIVA programme, created by Agri Sud-Ouest, was born. It aims to finance the deployment of digital innovations in the agricultural sector. This also applies to agri-food, the environment and forests. This desire to develop such a programme is part of the dynamics of Horizon 2020. It is a programme launched by the European Union dedicated to research and innovation. Above all, it refocuses funding around three pillars, three priorities. Scientific excellence, industrial primacy, and the management of societal challenges, at the heart of the debates. In order to find solutions to these major challenges, Agri Southwest launched its second call for projects for the DIVA program. This call for projects, open to 6 countries including France, aims to provide an endowment for all innovative projects for the agricultural sector.
As part of the programme, 255 projects were presented, divided between France, Spain, Greece, Ireland, Italy and Portugal. Only 68 projects were selected, 25 of which were for France. A very good performance, which shows how our country is at the forefront of innovation. To support and support the winners in their development, the DIVA programme distributes a total endowment of 1.4 million euros. This allows companies to finance their actions. The tricolour winners were therefore awarded 465,000 euros, to be used in the form of an “innovation cheque”. They are used in three types of actions:
The maturation by the development or the realization of market studies.
Setting up a demonstration of the solution in real conditions.
The internationalization of the company.
The New Aquitaine region stands out in this list, with 4 regional winners. This is a very promising result, given the local dynamism in many sectors.
Innovation for regional agriculture
New Aquitaine is the first agricultural region in France. It is also the first region in Europe in terms of surface area. It is also one of the most innovative regions, with the undeniable dynamism of Bordeaux. The metropolis, associated with its wines around the world attracts companies and investors ready to develop new concepts. In just a few years, it has thus made a prominent place on the national, European, and international stage. To develop the agri-food sector and to help evolve this sector, the region regularly organizes trade shows. The ALINAtrade show, dedicated to professionals in the agri-food industry, will be held in Bordeaux in September 2021 for its 2nd edition. This event brings together about 220 exhibitors and more than 2,200 visitors.
In the Southwest, agribusiness employs some 38,434 people in 1,997 companies. This sector alone generates annual sales of 11,894 million euros. It is therefore an essential activity for the regional economy, driven by an ideal location. Indeed, New Aquitaine is covered by a huge forest of more than 2.8 million hectares. It is the largest forest in France. Wood is one of the pillars of the regional agricultural economy. Indeed, its surface allows to develop environmentally friendly constructions, at the service of the energy transition. Above all, it is a fragile ecosystem that must be preserved, to ensure the survival of the flora and fauna that live there.
Artificial intelligence for agriculture
To support local producers and farmers in their development, the innovations thought up by the winners of the DIVA programme will have their importance. Indeed, agricultural trades are particularly physical and intense. Such innovations could provide relief for employees’ work. As a result, this would reduce the hardship at work, and thus the risk of injury. By positioning themselves as support for employees, robots and machines can thus increase production capacity. Additional performance that would make a difference, speeding up the pace by partially automating some time-consuming and repetitive tasks.
In the wine sector, but also in other types of agriculture, producers are particularly vigilant about the products used for crops. The evolution of consumer behaviour is turning to more reasoned agriculture. This translates into a decrease in the amount of processing products used. It is a process that takes time to clean up the soil. With certain machines, the farmer will be able to accurately indicate how to treat his plants, and monitor their evolution. In the Bordeaux region, the vines are particularly vulnerable to climatic hazards. Drought, hail or flooding have a significant impact on the quality of the vines. As a central activity in this region, there is much to be done for innovations.
Innovations are giving a new lease of life to traditional sectors. Agriculture and agri-food are among the pillars of the regional and national economy, and influence in Europe. The development of new solutions to support the work of producers will undoubtedly make it possible to turn even more towards the agriculture of tomorrow…
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