Axarquía Sostenible participates in the EU CAP Network conference

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The Operational Group “AXARQUÍA SOSTENIBLE” participated in the EU CAP Network conference ‘EIP-AGRI Operational Groups: Innovation in Practice’ last month in Estoril, Portugal.

In the CAP 2023-2027 framework, Operational Group projects (OGs) remain a crucial tool for fostering innovation and knowledge exchange. By December 2023, over 3,400 projects have been documented in the European Commission’s database, with more expected to be reported by the end of 2025. This is both a milestone to celebrate and an accomplishment to learn from and build upon for the future.

To celebrate and highlight these achievements, promote networking and knowledge sharing, support the next generation of OG projects, and encourage transnational/cross-border OGs, the EU CAP Network support unit for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange | EIP-AGRI organized the conference ‘EIP-AGRI Operational Groups: Innovation in Practice’.

This two-and-a-half-day event took place in Estoril, Portugal, from Monday, May 6 to Wednesday, May 8, 2024.

As the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries from Portugal, Mr. Jose Manuel Fernandes, highlighted: “Agriculture is part of our cultural heritage”. This message was supported by the Commissioner for Agriculture – Mr. Janusz Wojciechowski – from European Commission, who pointed out that “there are numerous challenges that require brilliant ideas and innovations, and the EIP-Agri has helped a lot in identifying those visions”. Mr. Roberto Berutti, Member of Cabinet of the Commissioner for Agriculture, European Commission, made also an important statement confirming that “farmers need to be at the core of innovation” and recognised that “the cornerstone of the EIP Agri are the Operational Groups”.

The conference gathered the best in agricultural and rural innovation in Europe. In this sense, the primary goal of the conference was twofold: to highlight the successful implementation of the EIP-AGRI through OG projects as a foundational component, and to draw lessons from this experience for implementing projects under CAP 2023-2027.

The specific objectives of the conference were:

  • Highlight and celebrate the achievements of over 3,400 OG projects in the EU;
  • Share experiences and knowledge from OG projects to enhance the dissemination of promising innovations;
  • Discuss opportunities, including funding, to further apply and scale OG outcomes in practice, particularly through Horizon Europe;
  • Address challenges and identify best practices to support the preparation and implementation of OG projects under CAP 2023-2027;
  • Promote further networking and collaboration for innovation in agriculture, forestry, and rural areas, including the formation of transnational/cross-border OGs;
  • Strengthen synergies between CAP and Horizon Europe for the benefit of OGs.

The conference program included plenary sessions with keynote speakers and interactive discussions showcasing concrete stories from relevant OGs. It also celebrated the creation of over 3,400 OG projects across the EU. The event provided opportunities to further disseminate and scale project results, helping participants to better understand the broad range of topics that OGs can address during the 2023-2027 CAP period.


Our colleague Gerardo González from BIOAZUL, as representative of the Operational group “AXARQUÍA SOSTENIBLE”, had the chance to present our innovative project in the exhibition area while exchanging knowledge and networking with other participants, Operational Groups and managing authorities attending the congress.

There were also numerous opportunities to gain inspiration from concrete examples of good practices from across Europe and to explore opportunities for future collaboration.

The last day of the conference included parallel workshops on various topics:

  • Starting from an innovative idea: developing it into an Operational Group project proposal
  • Facilitating: ensuring a smooth-running Operational Group project
  • Involving farmers and foresters from start to finish: ensuring that end-users are benefitting
  • Creating an enabling environment to support Operational Groups throughout the project
  • Sharing results for better uptake by practice, during and beyond the lifespan of the project
  • Inspiring Operational Groups to collaborate with other innovative projects
  • Fostering transnational Operational Groups

All the participants had the opportunity to reflect on the lessons learnt for the next generation of Operational Groups and had to report back from the parallel workshops with audience engagement.

To sum up, over 600 participants joined the conference, which included field trips, workshops, an innovation exhibition, a networking dinner and more and we can conclude that the event was amazingly organised to showcase and promote Operational Groups – past, present and future.

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