EU and UNDP are bringing Italian expertise for the development of innovative groups for agriculture in Uzbekistan

February 1, 2023
Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

On 31st January in Tashkent, a training was organized with the participation of experts from the CREA research center, Italy on the topic “Operational / Innovation Groups: An overview of the experience of the European Union”. CREA is the leading Italian national research institute for the development of operational/innovation groups in Italy, which in turn leads the EU in terms of the number of implemented innovation groups in agriculture. The project of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Uzbekistan “Supporting an inclusive transition to a green economy in the agri-food sector and developing a climate-smart knowledge and innovation system in agriculture in Uzbekistan” (“EU-AGRIN”), funded by the European Union, was the organizer.

The seminar, which was held in a hybrid format, was attended by representatives of research institutes in the field of agriculture and their scientific and experimental stations in the regions, centers of knowledge and innovation in agriculture of the Fergana, Kashkadarya and Tashkent regions of the National Center for Knowledge and Innovation in Agriculture , secondary specialized educational institutions, as well as farms, clusters, business representatives and NGOs.

In the first part of the seminar, in order to present to Uzbekistan the experience and knowledge of the European Union in the creation and management of innovation groups aimed at the development of agriculture, CREA experts made a number of practical presentations.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Riccardo Passero, Representative of the Council of CREA, gave a presentation "Introducing the concept of EIP-AGRI by providing practical information on the relevant implementation in Italy and the EU, including the tools and actions carried out by the Italian National Network of Rural Areas, managed by CREA, to support the launch and operation of operational groups ". During his speech, he stated that CREA is ready to provide the necessary recommendations and practical support for the successful implementation of the activities of the Innovation Groups in Uzbekistan.

Mara Lai, another representative of the board of CREA, gave a presentation on the topic "Co-creation of innovations in agriculture: application of the interactive model to the European Organization for Innovation Cooperation and its practical examples".

The participants then listened to an online presentation by Simone Christiano, via Zoom, on the role of consultants in developing operational teams within AKIS and the European Organization for Innovation Cooperation. Practical examples were heard from the experience of the European Union, primarily Italy, and initial recommendations for potential partners of innovation groups in Uzbekistan.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

Eligio Malusa, an experienced CREA staff member, made the final presentation of the workshop. In his presentation, he gave examples from the experience of two innovation groups in Italy. In particular, he told the participants about the activities of innovation groups that introduced resistant crop varieties to pests or climate change, the use of organic fertilizers and the management of innovative methods for irrigation systems and soil improvement.

The second part of the seminar was devoted to discussions between European experts and local participants.

It should be noted that the "Innovation Groups" develop and implement innovative projects with a scientific and practical solution aimed at adapting to climate change in agriculture and mitigating its negative consequences. This group may include farmers, researchers, agribusiness representatives, entrepreneurs and representatives of interested organizations. They develop and implement projects consisting of innovative solutions and approaches aimed at overcoming various problems and shortcomings through collective action based on common interests.

Photo: UNDP Uzbekistan

The main goal of innovation groups is to maximize the opportunities of agriculture and solve existing problems by integrating science, research, services and production. The advantage of these groups is that scientific research developed by scientists is tested in production in cooperation with farmers and dekhkan farms. As noted by the national coordinator of the EU-funded UNDP project Ulugbek Islamov, the development of innovative groups in Uzbekistan will increase the efficiency of high-quality agricultural production, corresponding to the climate and conditions of the regions, and will contribute to the commercialization of scientific developments. The study and application of the best practices of the European Union in this regard plays an important role.