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The 3rd workshop of the Andalusian RAIN was held in Loja, Granada

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The third Andalusian RAIN workshop was organized on June 11, 2024, by the Andalusian Agency for Agricultural and Fisheries Management (AGAPA), led by M.ª Carmen García Moreno.

In this working session, training materials and tools for innovation and decision-making support being developed within the AF4EU project were validated.

In line with the European Commission’s commitment to more sustainable and environmentally friendly production models, such as agro-silvopastoral systems, AGAPA has been acting as a facilitator of the Regional Agroforestry Innovation Network (RAIN) of Andalusia. This network is part of the European Project AF4EU, funded through the Horizon Europe program (2021-2027). The third RAIN Workshop of Andalusia was held on June 11, 2024, in the town of Loja (Granada), at the headquarters of the Local Action Group “Poniente Granadino”, with the participation of 15 experts, mainly farmers, ranchers, and advisors from various regions of Andalusia. Currently, the Andalusian RAIN has 52 members.

Mª del Carmen García, Innovation Broker for the Andalusian RAIN, was responsible for introducing the day, emphasizing the importance of participating in European projects as a way to bring Andalusia’s reality to Europe. Juan Antonio Moreno Cobo, president of the Association of Ranchers and Breeders of the «Lojeña» Sheep Breed of Poniente Granadino, explained how they have innovated in their marketing strategy through alliances with chefs, presence at agri-food fairs, foreign missions, and the development of new products, among others. This association is certified in organic and halal production and is in the process of obtaining certification for a 100% indigenous breed. Despite this, he noted that the exceptionally rustic breed, adapted to the difficult terrain, is in danger of extinction with a population of about 13,000, and there is a challenge in attracting young people to take over existing livestock operations. He acknowledged the importance of collective dining, such as school canteens and educational programs, in promoting the consumption of these products and the need to value the environmental services provided by extensive livestock farming.

Following this, group work focused on validating 10 value chains: olive, berries, meat, milk, beekeeping, pastures, agrotourism, aromatic mushrooms, and wood. This information will be used to inform the decision support system being developed as part of the project. Finally, dissemination materials that have already been addressed in collaboration with «Ganadería las Albaidas» were presented. To conclude, the modules of the course for training advisors in agroforestry systems developed so far were reviewed. These modules will be part of the open-format training (MOOC) accessible to advisors who want to specialize in communication techniques and group management specifically aimed at the agroforestry sector. Undoubtedly, the committed response of Andalusia and its producers to seek options for valuing and sustainably managing our agroforestry spaces is a reality that involves meeting and exchanging experiences among the different systems, climates, and territories with the project’s partners.