Enhancing competitiveness, the business environment and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, trade and investment.
4. Enhancing SMEs’ economic competitiveness through innovation driven development
4.1 Enhancing innovation through cooperation between SMEs and research institutions involving young people
Farmlands are exposed to dangerous xenobiotics because of the regular use of distinct pesticides. Even if present in small concentrations, they are dangerous as all have the tendency of progressive accumulation in the food chain. Two approaches are frequently used worldwide to lower the exposition of plant cultivation fields to pollution by xenobiotics: organic farming and Ecological Pest Management (EPM). In the EU, EPM approach was originally defined by Directive 91/414/EEC, replaced by regulation 1107/2009; while regulation (EC) 834/2007 covers production and labeling of organic products.
Organic farming relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on farms, while excluding or strictly limiting the use of manufactured fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock antibiotics, GMOs, etc. Nevertheless, the proportion of the total certified land area used for organic production in the Hungary-Srbia border region is rather low (e.g., according to the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture it was less than 0.1% of total agricultural land area in 2009, while another 0.2% of agricultural land is in the conversion process; the situation is somehow better but still far from optimal in Hungary).
EPM is another approach based on the use of multiple tactics in a compatible manner to maintain pest populations at levels below those causing economic injury while providing protection from hazards to humans/animals/plants/the environment. EPM involves the application of non-chemical, alternative processes and methods, including host resistance and biological control. For conventional farms EPM can reduce human and environmental exposure to hazardous chemicals and potentially lower the overall costs. Design of sustainable EPM based strategies and the assessment of their relevance remains a major priority for the 21st century agriculture.
Project's Main Objectives
The project will develop two innovative microbial products for upgrading arable soil quality and establish the PLANTSVITA Hunagry-Serbia Border Region Centre for promoting sustainable agricultural measures and catalyzing cooperation between R&D actors and SMEs in the agro-food field, enhancing the regional competitiveness.
These project's main objectives contribute to the Programme-level Specific Objective in the following way:
- Joint research and knowledge-transfer activities in domain of environment-friendly technology to enhance cooperation and innovation activities.
- Creation of a new, innovative product and technology intended for restoration/protection of the soil quality, promoting ecological pest management.
- Close contacts, knowledge-transfer and dissemination activities contributing to the raising awareness and innovative capacities of the local end-users and economy actors, particularly of SMEs involved in agriculture, about the environment-friendly and sustainable agriculture production.
- Enhanced visibility of the region’s capacities, making them attractive for participation in larger RD programmes.
- New green technologies will increase the competitiveness of agro-food SMEs and create new job opportunities for qualified young people. This will be a significant contribution to the competitiveness of the regional R+D actors and economy actors in the enlarged EU.