The project was established with the objective of demonstrating experimentally that soft fruit processing in the Pyrenees and Pre-Pyrenees can be approached as a less aggressive and more sustainable form of climate change adaptation in the region. The project has become an innovation benchmark for mountain agriculture, as well as a powerful tool for economic diversification in the sector.
Planting soft fruit crops at higher altitude to bring hectares of land into production with these and other species as a climate change adaptation strategy for the farming sector in Huesca. The project brings together various enterprising companies in the primary and agricultural processing sectors in Aragon, in alliance with the University of Zaragoza.
Introducing experimental soft fruit crops at high altitude which are not as viable in more southerly regions due to the effects of global warming: high temperatures, lack of rainfall and greater pressure from infestation.
High-altitude farms (Benasque valley) are brought together with farms on the plains of the Cinca Medio comarca (Albalate de Cinca) to diversify seasonal produce and the variety of crops, as well as increasing the value added of the produce.
The actions taken forward in the project are as follows:
- Experimental cultivation of 1,800 m2 with 2,500 native (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry and Amelanchier ovalis) and non-native plant species (haskap and aronia).
- High-altitude 800 m2 plantation with species which are better-adapted to cultivation on valley floors which are at risk of being abandoned.
- Planning of a stepped harvesting system over various months (species cultivated with a complementary harvesting calendar) to lessen the seasonal nature of the work.
- Soil conservation, given phytosanitary measures are not necessary.
Case mainly developed and implemented via objectives from other non-adaptation policies, though with significant consideration for climate change adaptation aspects.
Fruit Luxury, El Remós Garden Centre, ZUFRISA, Fundación ECODES, University of Zaragoza.
The project has been promoted by Fruit Luxury (cherry horticulture), the El Remós Garden Centre (production of blueberries and other soft fruit in Benasque), ZUFRISA (fruit processing), Fundación ECODES and the University of Zaragoza (postharvest technology research group).
Success: use of adapted autochthonous species; diversification of farming seasonality; complementing high mountain agriculture with farming on plains in Lleida; creation of infrastructure for processing (freeze-dryer or dehydrator), packaging and marketing in the region and a joint marketing system; no infestation or disease in the first seasons; species used are frost-resistant.
Limiting: industrial-scale introduction of these crops is new; logistics for commercial handling of soft fruit.
The project was initially financed (2016-2017) with a budget of €45,203, of which 20% was funded by the partners (ESNEPI, Zufrisa, Jardinería Valle de Benasque SL, Fruit Luxury Company SL and ECODES) and 80% was provided by the Department of the Environment of the Government of Aragon through the funding programme for Cooperation Actions Among Farming Stakeholders (part of the Aragon Rural Development Programme 2014-2020). The project was subsequently (2017-2018) self-funded by the company Jardinería Valle de Benasque through soft fruit farming and the production of juices and preserves.
The project has been funded by the Government of Aragon and the EU’s EAFRD funding instrument as part of the Aragon Rural Development Programme (2014-2020).
2016-2018 (2 years - in progress)