From May 15th to 18th, 2018, AREPO – Association of European Regions for Products of Origin -, in collaboration with Anne Clermontelle Conseil, coordinated the 2nd edition of the AGROSMARTcoop Transnational Forum in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the forum dedicated to agri-food cooperatives to reinforce innovation, competitiveness and intercooperation. The event was organized in collaboration with Coop de France Nouvelle-Aquitaine for their participation in the Salon de l’Agriculture Nouvelle-Aquitaine. Cooperatives, federations of cooperatives and researchers have traveled from Spain, Portugal and Nouvelle-Aquitaine to participate.
As a reminder, the AGROSMARTcoop project “Space for integration, competitiveness and the intelligent economic growth of agri-food cooperatives in rural Sudoe” is a European project 75% co-financed by the Interreg Sudoe program, which aims to revitalize rural areas of South-West Europe by supporting and improving the competitiveness of its agri-food cooperatives.
The Transnational Forum began on Wednesday morning with the 20th edition of the “Assises de l’Origine“ organized in partnership with AREPO. This year’s theme “The ambitions of quality and origin policies in the post-2020 CAP” was chosen to meet the objectives of the AGROSMARTcoop project. The presentation of the political calendar of the CAP by Marc Séverac, Head of the Office of the European Union within the French Ministry of Agriculture, was followed by a debate articulated around the two pillars of the CAP during which MEP Jean-Paul Denanot, Member of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Parliament, spoke as a great witness of the Assises. The first round table on the organization of markets for quality and origin products highlighted the need to further protect these products with the maintenance of the CAP budget and the principle of subsidiarity, and the regionalization of the largest part of the CAP instruments. The second round table highlighted the impact of quality and origin products on the activity, employment and dynamism of rural areas and the need for a strong horizontal priority and the integration of producer groups within the new CAP, illustrated by the speech of Simona Caselli, Minister of Agriculture of Emilia-Romagna and member of AREPO. José Severino Montes Pérez, President of AGACA – Union of Agri-food Cooperatives of Galicia and coordinating entity of the project, concluded the morning with the presentation of the AGROSMARTcoop project at the service of quality and origin policies.
On Wednesday afternoon, we held our intercooperation workshops for innovation and competitiveness of Sudoe agri-food cooperatives. We were able to witness the rich interventions of experts and cooperatives on their good practices in eco-marketing and eco-innovation, the presentation of competitive tools such as geographical indications at the service of cooperatives with Catherine Oggero of INAO – National Institute of Origin and Quality – or CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) with Laurent Lévêque of Coop de France Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
On Thursday morning, we traveled to the wine cooperative “Les Vignerons de Buzet”, very invested in eco-innovation and CSR. We were able to discover the eco-innovative techniques of the cooperative with its unique eco-purification system in Europe, its approach to protecting endangered species and its limitation of chemical inputs, among others. This was followed by a visit to their winery and a commented tasting of their wine.
The afternoon was dedicated to the inauguration of the Coop de France Nouvelle-Aquitaine stand at the Salon de l’Agriculture where Denis Baro, President of Coop de France Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Jean-Pierre Raynaud, Vice-President of the Regional Council of Nouvelle-Aquitaine,Dominique Graciet and Bruno Millet, respectively President and Director of the Regional Chamber of Agriculture Nouvelle-Aquitaine, took the floor to thank the partners and cooperatives for their presence, to present the wealth of the agriculture in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and encourage interregional cooperation. The inauguration of the stand was also an opportunity for Coop de France Nouvelle-Aquitaine and the various Spanish and Portuguese partners to organize a tasting of their cooperative products under official signs of quality and origin in order to discover the diversity and the richness of their terroir.
On Friday, May 18th, the last day of the forum, the partners and cooperatives went to the wine cooperative “Les Vignerons d’UniMédoc”. They discovered the good practices of the cooperative in terms of smart marketing and eco-innovation with a commented tasting of their wine but also with a sample of the show “sound and light” of the winery, showing the desire of the cooperative to diversify into wine tourism.
The forum allowed AGROSMARTcoop partners and their cooperatives to discover the diversity and quality of good practices in eco-innovation and smart marketing of agri-food cooperatives of Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and to reinforce intercooperation between neighboring European regions by stimulating interest of these exchanges to boost the competitiveness of their cooperatives.