Agriculture is a crucial activity for our economy, providing food, raw materials, employment and income. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), agricultural activity represents almost 40% of world GDP and agricultural goods are responsible for 43% of world exports. Since approximately ¼ of the land’s surface is cultivated, all impacts associated with agriculture have universal effects. This is a particularly relevant fact because, in a world in which the global population will reach 8.3 billion inhabitants in 2030, it will be necessary to produce between 35% and 50% more food and with less environmental impacts, in order to comply with climate change goals.
But for the success of this project, it is urgent to win important struggles, both in the laboratories and in the fields. No other problem limits agricultural production as strongly as pests and diseases, so, being able to control them is one of the great current challenges facing farmers in all countries. Although more than € 60 billion are spent annually on pesticides worldwide, between 30% and 50% of global agricultural production is destroyed by pests and diseases. The Mediterranean region is one of the most affected by climate change and the movement of new pests and diseases, for some of which there is no known solution.
To address these problems, InnovPlantProtect develops innovative bio-based solutions and plants resistant to pests and diseases, promoting safer, more productive and more sustainable agricultural crops. Our work focuses on the specific problems of Mediterranean crops, in particular those resulting from the emergence of new pests and diseases associated with the global increase in average temperature.
We develop our products at least until the proof of concept stage and our solutions are licensed for commercialization. The concepts that we are developing will result in new biopesticides (pesticides of biological nature) against pests and diseases, in new formulations and matrices for agricultural applications, in new plant varieties with characteristics that face the challenges of production, in new methods of diagnosis and monitoring of pests and diseases, and in new models of risk and application of biopesticides. We use several technologies, including cyber-physical systems, robotics/ drones, sensors and artificial intelligence.
The selection of the problems to be solved (pests and diseases) and the products to be developed is entirely up to the InnovPlantProtect associates, who, together, identify priorities and define the necessary investment.
Among the emerging pests and diseases already selected and which are the subject of InnovPlantProtect’s activity are yellow rust (in wheat), Xylella fastidiosa (in olive trees), brown spot of Rocha pear and rice blast.
Other pests and diseases that may become the object of InPP activity are, among others, Drosophila suzukii, which affects various fruits, cephalosporiosis (a soil fungal disease that attacks corn), Trioza erytreae (citrus greening vector) and the Guatemalan moth, whose larvae build galleries in tubers like potatos.
There is currently no efficient solution on the market for these pests and diseases.
Activities plan for 2022 (summary)
In 2022, we will start working at InPP’s new headquarters facilities. Laboratory equipment will be installed during the month of January, and services and laboratory activity will be moved to the new offices and labs.
The year of 2022 will also be marked by the election of InPP’s Governing Bodies for the following triennium.
From the institutional point of view, the goals for 2022 are:
- The inauguration of the permanent facilities
- The election of the Governing Bodies for the triennium 2022-2025
- To attract new associates.
From the management point of view, the goals for 2022 are:
- The conclusion of a business plan adjusted to InPP’s reality
- The implementation of administrative and treasury management procedures to cope with diversified funding sources
- The approach to the funding model foreseen by the Collaborative Laboratories Regulations: 1/3 public revenue; 1/3 self-attained revenue; 1/3 contribution from associates.
From the scientific and technical point of view, the goals for 2022 are:
- The submission of two applications to Horizon Europe
- The submission of the “PRR empresas” projects approved in pre-application
- Looking for other funding programs for project submission
- Raising exclusive contracts for product development
From the service providing point of view, the goals for 2022 are:
- The consolidation of the “InnovPlantProtect” brand at national level
- The beginning of the brand’s expansion at European level
- The raising of 5 service contracts
From the communication point of view, the goals for 2022 are:
- Keeping the internal communication plan
- The development of a communication plan for different audiences
- The organization and co-organization of events
ACTIVITIES TO BE DEVELOPED:
- Management and Administration of InPP
- Search for new sources of funding;
- Installation and operation of InPP headquarters
- Keeping and expanding intra-institutional interactions
- Permanent search of cooperation with associates from the national scientific and technological system, in the transfer of solutions designed for business activity, from a perspective of complementarity and synergic collaboration
- Permanent search with business associates and producers associations to identify the needs for development of new biologic solutions and new services
- Establishment and maintenance of inter-institutional relationships
- Relation with ANI’s supervising unit and international mentorship;
- Cooperation with DGAV. Support in the biological control plan for Trioza erytreae and participation in the plant health task force
ACTIVITIES TO BE DEVELOPED – Projects
- XfSTOP – An integrated management approach for the biocontrol of Xylella fastidiosa in olive and almond trees
- BlaSTOP – To develop integrated solutions to fight rice blast/ pyriculariosis
- S2F – Sea to farm – Development of a screening platform to select marine bacteria as Biological Control Agents (BCAs) against different bacterial and fungal phytopathogenic agents
- Sustemicrop (PRIMA) – Development of eco-sustainable systemic technologies and strategies in the main farming systems of the Mediterranean, contributing to the socio-economic resilience of small-scale agriculture
- Artificial OESTEFRUTA 4.0 – Mobilizing Agenda for Fruit Growing in the Oeste Region
- WhYRust – Sustainable protection of wheat against yellow rust disease
- Insectário – To build an InPP insectary
- Infrastructure with containment level 2
- MicroLib – InPP microorganisms collection
- StawberryBreed – Improving the competitiveness and resilience of strawberry production in Portugal in a context of climate change
- DIMAP – A digital ecosystem for integrated disease management in pear orchards
- Bioinformatics and data science support
- WeatherInt – Weather database and interactive app
- PEST-OUT – Innovative solutions and concepts to increase crop resilience against invasive pests
- AItoPc – AI applied to a prediction system and early detection of Phytophthora cinnamomi in montado/ dehesa (2-year project)
- XfVectors – Biology of xylem sap-feeding biting-sucking insects and potential vectors of Xylella fastidiosa in Portugal (2-year project)
- XfSurvey – A digital app for managing DGAV survey data from Xylella fastidiosa
- BlaStop – nano/ microcarriers to protect and deliver small RNA/ peptides to cereals
- InsectERA – The ERA of the insect industry
- Sea 2 Field – Innovative materials based on marine resources for application in agriculture (project to be presented)