France has made important strides in its comprehensive Agriculture Innovation 2025 plan for a competitive agriculture that is respectful of the environment. First launched in October of last year, the plan proposes 30 projects to make agricultural production in France more high-tech and environmentally friendly. A new announcement from the Ministry of Agriculture provides good news about the progress made in the plan over the course of the past year.
Several different programs are specifically highlighted for their progress. An international research program for the 4 per 1000 Initiative for Food Security and Climate is currently being developed under the leadership of two leading French research organizations: the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) and the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD). This international framework for research will allow actors around the world to contribute to the development of knowledge around this initiative, which aims to increase carbon sequestration in soils around the world. According to scientists, an annual increase of 0.4% of carbon sequestered in soils would negate the effects of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions. Promoting international research cooperation is a key goal for attaining this. A national network for scientific and technical expertise on soil is also being launched on December 7th, the day before Global Soils Day.
Additionally, two new projects were launched this year with French government financial support that fulfill the goals of the Agriculture Innovation 2025 plan. #DigitAg is dedicated to using information technology in agriculture, and will focus on using new technologies in rural areas, promoting innovation and the use of big data in agriculture, and providing the tools to farmers in the field to use all of this information. #DigitAg also plans to provide education on digital agriculture, offering scholarships for researchers studying the use of technology in agriculture.
Another project is called C-LAND, dedicated to issues of climate change and land use, and hopes to provide integrated solutions to land use issues to help in the ecological and energy transition of the 21st century. Three main areas of research will be the following studies: Carbon sequestration in biomass and soils, agriculture and forests undergoing climate change, and piloting transitions to integrated land use. The projects are made up of more than 200 researchers and 12 different research teams to accomplish these ambitious tasks.
Moreover, a new internet-based system will soon be put in place that allows for uploading and downloading of national agricultural data for use by farmers and researchers alike. Progress is expected by mid-October 2016. Additionally, the plan for “living laboratories” is also advancing. These labs are designed to encourage innovation by bringing farmers, businesses, researchers and agricultural educators together to work on projects. Two pilot projects dedicated to agro-ecology are already in progress and are funded in part by the French government.
Finally, a new Investment Program of the Future is being planned, which will be funded by 10 billion euros (11 billion dollars) from the Ministry of Agriculture and will provide additional funding to Agriculture Innovation 2025 projects.