Cannaville: The Town of the Future

Around the world it is difficult to keep young people interested in farming. The lure of the city, university, and the perception of a “better” life off the farm or rural area has impacted agriculture, families, and food security. The challenge is to make farming profitable thus sustainable, and “cool” enough for today’s generation to remain happily engaged in such a hard but rewarding career. 

Luckily, the Europe Union has many programs to encourage and sustain these efforts. However, what’s still missing is an emotional attachment. When today’s young people can see and do almost anything in the world, they have a higher need to feel satisfaction in their work. Meaningful, interesting, ethical, environmentally-positive, socially-useful work is important to them.

At the same time, the rise in the global hemp and Cannabis industry has opened new avenues for farmers around the world. While drug Cannabis still carries a stigma, drug-free industrial hemp does not.

Therefore, one way to develop the agriculture sector for young people is by encouraging the farming of Cannabis and hemp, a model I call Cannaville. With the loss of population in many rural farming villages making them unsustainable, they could be converted into a processing center for nearby farms. That would re-invigorate these dying villages, add value by processing, and increase returns to farmers in the co-operative.

Brussels has many programs to finance such initiatives, including 4 billion Euros for sustainable agriculture, forestry, food, environment and climate change, bioeconomy, and improving rural living conditions. Growing hempseed for food increases food security. Hemp acts a carbon sink, and can be locked in by using the stalk for building construction. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular non-psychoactive chemical in hemp which is seeing tremendous growth in sales.

One way to organize it after securing contracts to own or lease long-term the village is as a co-operative owned by the farmers and processor. In the village could be facilities to process into oil, shelled the seed for food, or process the long bast and short hurd fibres into products such as animal bedding or “hempcrete.” Seed and fibre should be seen as dual products, both have value and growing just for seed leaves the farmer with enormous amounts of fibrous waste to dispose of and/or plough back into the soil as “green manure.” Growing just for fibre leaves as much as 1.000 kg/hectare of seed as waste. The responsible method is to grow both sides of the business. Fibre is eligible for one or more CAP subsidies per year.

However, growing for CBD is quite different. The plants tend to be unsuitable for fibre uses, and are preferred to be seedless for higher yields. Currently, the EU mandates only approved varieties of hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) be grown, those are mostly for fibre and few for seed, and none high in CBD. I expect that to change soon, as it leaves European farmers at a severe disadvantage in the global CBD market.

The seed is highly nutritious, a complete protein and rich in omega-3 fatty acid. It can be eaten raw, unlike wheat or soybean, and tastes like girasole. There is a global market for shelled hempseed, it can be used in thousands of commercial products. Hempseed foods are exempt from Novel Food rules.

The more value the co-operative can add, the better. Branded consumer packaged hemp products will return higher export values over low-margin bulk industrial products. It will eventually take hundreds to thousands of hectares within 50 km of the processing village, but not immediately.

Hemp production and processing will employ large numbers in meaningful work, from the farmer and processing technician to electricians, mechanics, laboratory tech, and the other businesses in the village serving them, such as barista, real estate, food markets, and the like.

Phase One would involve securing buildings and farmer-members, deciding on end-product specifications thus starting material specs, installing processing equipment, and farmers learning to grow the crop starting with field trials of every variety available to see what grows best for their region and end-use. In Spain, even entire villages are for sale.

Why hemp, hempseed, and CBD?

Humans and the animals humans eat have been ingesting phytocannabinoids such as THC and CBD for many thousands of years, in many different cultures, without any social, mental, or physical problems arising from consumption.

The sticky resin on the flowers of the female Cannabis or Hemp plant (same genus, different end-uses) contains cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. Physically near that resin are the seeds. Lower THC hemp thrived in the temperate latitudes and contained CBD, and Cannabis at the sub-tropical/tropical latitudes had higher THC, higher total cannabinoids, and more resin.

Hempseed and therefore consumption of cannabinoids, trace and not, is ancient and worthy of Grandfathering into food and drug regulations as a food pre-existing regulation for millennia. After more than 12.000 years with no regulation, it is the world’s longest, broadest, and largest toxicology study, with not one death.

There are at least 150 cannabinoids found in Cannabis. The best known is THC, but also CBD, THCa, CBDa, CBGa, CBG, CBLa, CBCa, CBC, CBEa, CBNa, CBN, CBL, CBT, CBE, CBND, THCVa, CBDVa, CBGVa, CBLVa, CBCVa, THCV, CBDV, CBGV, CBLV, CBCV, and more. As recently as 2015 another 7 were discovered.

Some cannabinoids interact with the body’s own Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which co-evolved over millions of years concurrently with Cannabis. The ECS is found in any animal with a nervous system, controlling many functions, and is estimated to be over 600 million years old. Two important Endocannabinoids are anandamide and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol.

Mankind’s long co-evolution with Cannabis might be due to the cannabinoid receptors found in the body, which compose the ECS. Endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids act upon these receptors. Cannabinoid receptor 1 is most plentiful in the brain, spinal cord, some peripheral organs and tissues such as the spleen, white blood cells, endocrine gland and parts of the reproductive, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Cannabinoid receptor 2 is most plentiful in the white blood cells, the tonsils, and the spleen. Cannabis is one of mankind’s most-studied plants.

My work starting in 1994 included making sure hempseed used for commercial food products in the US had no cannabinoids transferred to the food, for legal and quality assurance reasons. Difficult to remove from the outside shell, that’s how I came to realize we have been eating minute amounts of cannabinoids for thousands of years. Removing the shell reduces cannabinoid content, but shelling of hempseed is a relatively new invention, only invented in 1996. And oil pressing is still performed on whole, not shelled, Hempseed. I believe that many of the healthful and healing qualities attributed to Hempseed oil may actually be from the trace cannabinoids in the oil.

Here, I conflate “Hemp,” “Cannabis,” and “Marijuana”: it’s all the same genus, only end-use dictates whether it is drug Cannabis (Marijuana) or fibre Cannabis (Hemp). Today’s legal definition (0.2% to 1% max THC depending on nation; a standard only 60 years old) is too rigid to confine what our ancestors also called “Hemp” for thousands of years.

The genus “Cannabis,” also known as Hemp, Hamp, Chanvre, Canapa, Cañamo, Hanf, Hennep, Ma, Asa, Kanab, Dagga, Ganja, Maconha, and Konopi, is indigenous to the Russian plains, the Caucasus, Transcaucasia, the Crimea and the Urals, from China to the Balkan Peninsula. Cannabis pollen millions of years old has been identified in Eurasia.

Humans and animals have consumed Hemp flower products (and thus cannabinoids) for many millennia around the world, including the USA where Hemp has been grown continuously since at least 1606, in Jamestown. The most-predominant cannabinoid in Hemp is Cannabidiol (CBD).

The resin adhering to the female flowers as well as fine particles of resin-containing flower are inevitably consumed when the seed is eaten or pressed for its edible oil. This sticky adherent on the outside of the shell of the hempseed is difficult to remove. Even with modern cleaning methods removing that resin from Hempseed is difficult, one study shows as high as 117 parts-per-million THC remaining in common health food store Hempseed oil. So difficult in fact, that the Hempseed oil industry won a suit against DEA in 2004 to be allowed to leave any amount of undisclosed THC in Hempseed oil, due to this sticky resin. The THC limit on all hemp products in the U.S. is now 3.000 ppm.

Hemp has been used in human cultures since prehistoric times, at least since the end of the Pleistocene era. From Africa to Japan to Scandinavia to Eastern and Southern Europe to the Americas, Hempseed has been an essential commodity to eat, grow, and trade. The use of Hempseed for food is many millennia older than even the use of Soybean for food.

Hempseed is high in essential amino (23% protein, edestin and albumin types) and fatty (25%, including omega-3 and GLA) acids, vitamins and minerals, and fibre (35%). It contains more protein than beef and more omega-3 than fish. It can be eaten raw or cooked. Even the protein type is called “edestin,” from the Greek edestos meaning “to eat.” Highly versatile, hempseed could be eaten years later, fed to animals, converted to oil for eating or lamps, or planted as a seed or fibre crop.

Discovering Hemp’s fibrous properties was most likely a byproduct of seed collection for food. The use of Hemp predates the dawn of agriculture. Ancient Chinese texts and archeological evidence suggest that Hempseed use for food in China reaches back into the early Neolithic period and perhaps to the late Paleolithic.

Funding Possibilities
(compiled in 2016)

            The European Community has many development programs which are well within the mission of the Cannaville Project. These programs are generally to improve the economic and social conditions of member states, including Portugal.

            These programs include:

            The European Community’s Rural Development Programme (RDP) for mainland Portugal was formally adopted by the European Commission on December 12, 2014, outlining Portugal’s priorities for using the €4.2 billion of public money that is available for the 7 year period 2014-2020. With more than one third of funding aimed at improving competitiveness of the agricultural sector, the RDP aims to provide on-farm investment to more than 8,000 farm holdings, to facilitate the installation of nearly 5,000 young farmers by 2023, and to provide 20,000 training places, mainly for farmers.

            Within this context of modernisation and improved economic and environmental performance of Portuguese agriculture, there will also be cooperation projects, for example by encouraging more than 8,000 producers to participate in quality schemes. A further major theme is the better management of natural resources, where the RDP aims to encourage nearly 20,000 hectares of newly afforested land and raise the agricultural area covered by agri-environment schemes or organic farming to approximately 1 million hectares. The RDP will also use 5% of funds for local initiatives hoping to create more than 2,300 new jobs and improve living conditions for 3/4 of the rural population.

            Rural Development is the 2nd Pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy, providing Member States with an envelope of EU funding to manage nationally or regionally under multi-annual, co-funded programmes. In total, 118 programmes are foreseen in all 28 Member States. The new RD Regulation for the 2014-2020 period addresses six economic, environmental and social priorities, and programmes contain clear targets setting out what is to be achieved. Moreover, in order to coordinate actions better and maximise synergies with the other European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF), a Partnership Agreement has been agreed with each Member State highlighting its broad strategy for EU-funded structural investment.

            Portugal covers an area of 89,089 km² of which 81% is rural. Of the total area, 47% is agricultural land while forests cover 39 %. The total population is 10 million – of which 33 % live in rural areas. The unemployment rate in Portugal is 13.1% (3rd Quarter 2014), which is one of the highest in the EU.

            Portuguese agriculture is very diverse due to different soil, climate and landscape characteristics; 91% of the farms are considered as small-scale structures in contrast with farms of average and big dimension that account for only 9% of the total farms, but represent 67% of the utilised agriculture area (UAA) and 77% of the total standard output value. Consequently, some of the key challenges for this programming period will be improving the competitiveness of small farms, promoting better cooperation and concentration, for example by encouraging producer organisations, while at the same time continuing to support the needed generation renewal.

            Almost 52% of the UAA represents High Nature Value farming and 84% of the UAA is considered of low intensity with almost 58% dedicated to grazing. Another major challenge will therefore be supporting this type of extensive farming, which is less productive, but highly beneficial for the environment.

            Portugal undertook big efforts in the field of environment in the last two programming periods, but there is still scope for improvement. Biodiversity and Natura 2000 areas are a concern, taking into account that Natura 2000 represents 21% of the territory.

            Rural depopulation and increased ageing of the population is a problem in Portugal and rural regions are more and more facing the negative effects of this development.

            Further modernisation of Portuguese agriculture is considered to be crucial to improve the competitiveness of farms. Support will be addressed at farms to enhance their production potential, which in turn will help achieve a higher value added. In view of the existing agricultural fragmentation and low penetration of producer organisations, there is a clear incentive and message towards achieving a higher degree of participation of farmers in collective organisation. As generation change is considered to be a key factor influencing the modernisation and competitiveness of farms, investment support will continue to encourage young people to set up new modern and competitive farm enterprises.

            The “Community Led Local Development” (CLLD/LEADER) organisation is expected to support the balanced territorial development of rural economies and communities, thereby creating jobs and improving living conditions in these areas.

            The Portuguese RDP is centered on five Rural Development Priorities with the main emphasis given to enhancing farm viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture in all regions and promoting innovative farm technologies and the sustainable management of forests (Priority 2).

            The cross-cutting priority “Knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas” will help the farm sector and rural businesses to incorporate the results of research and innovation into their production systems. Transfer of knowledge will be provided through training of almost 20,000 participants over the period, mainly farmers. The links between the agricultural production sectors and research will be reinforced through 78 cooperation projects.

Priority 1: Competitiveness of the agricultural sector and sustainable forestry

            Farm investments in all sectors aim to restructure 8,000 farms (2.73 % of the total), simultaneously targeting environment, climate and animal welfare. An important element is innovation, which is facilitated via co-operation, information and knowledge transfer between the agri-food sector, researchers and other stakeholders. 78 co-operation projects will be established, while a total number of 20,000 participants will be trained. Participation in the European Innovation Partnership can also be supported under this priority.

Priority 2: Food chain organisation, including processing and marketing of agricultural products, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture

            Primary producers will be supported by better integrating them into the agri-food chain through quality schemes (around 8,250 farm holdings), adding value to agricultural products, promoting local markets, short supply chains and producer groups.

Priority 3:  Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry

            Around 72% of the allocated amount will be used for area-based payments to farmers for using environment/climate-friendly land management practices, including organic farming. Additionally, the RDP includes a limited number of highly targeted agri-environmental/climate measures prioritising the most vulnerable areas (for example Natura 2000 and High Nature Value areas), and water management. This priority also supports environment/climate-friendly farm investments and non-productive investments. The aim is that almost 35% of the agricultural area will be under contracts of Agri-Environment Commitments, Organic Farming or Natura 2000.

Priority 4: Resource efficiency and climate.

            Hemp is a naturally drought-resistant crop.

Priority 5:  Social inclusion and local development in rural areas

            This priority is implemented entirely by the “bottom-up” approach through Local Development Strategies drawn up by the expected 47 Local Action Groups (LAGs). Small investments in the food processing sector, in business start-ups and in basic services will only be supported within the scope of the Local Development Strategies. The focus is on growth and jobs in addition to improving living conditions in rural areas, particularly via business development, innovation and co-operation. 5% of the RDP public support has been earmarked for Community Led Local Development (CLLD/LEADER). The approach will cover almost 73 % of the rural population creating both jobs – potentially more than 2,300 new jobs – and improving living conditions. LEADER is a French acronym meaning “links between the rural economy and development actions.”

            The five biggest RDP measures in budgetary terms (total public funding) are:

€1.5 billion allocated for Measure 4 – investment in physical assets

€814 million allocated for Measure 13 – Payments to areas facing natural or other specific constraints

€517 million allocated for Measure 8 – Investment in forest area development and improvement of the viability of forests

€489 million allocated for Measure 10 – Agri-environment-climate

€221 million allocated for Measure 19 – Support for LEADER local development

            Local Action Groups (LAGs) are made up of public and private partners from the rural territory, and must include representatives from different socio-economic sectors. They receive financial assistance to implement local development strategies, by awarding grants to local projects. They are selected by the managing authority of the Member State, which is either a national, regional or local, private or public body responsible for the management of the programme. There are 52 LAGs in Portugal.

            The priority themes are set by the European Commission and are considered to be of special interest at Community level. Each development plan must be structured around one of these themes:

  • The use of know-how and new technologies to make the products and services of rural areas more competitive (11%, 4% in Portugal)
  • Improving the quality of life in rural areas (24%, 37% in PT)
  • Adding value to local products, in particular by facilitating access to markets for small production units via collective actions (20%, 21%)
  • Making the best use of natural and cultural resources, including enhancing the value of sites of Community interest selected under Natura 2000 (34%, 19%)

            The new Horizon 2020 Societal Challenge 2 Work Programme 2016-2017 offers a budget of around €877 million, out of which €560 million are of direct interest to agriculture and forestry. The main opportunities for agriculture and forestry can be found in three main calls:

  • Sustainable Food Security (SFS)
  • Rural Renaissance (RUR)
  • Bio-based innovation (BB)
  • With these calls, the EU aims to:
  • improve the capacity of farming and food systems to provide sufficient and healthy food for all, while safeguarding natural resources;
  • raise the sustainable growth potential of rural areas through new territorial approaches and business models;
  • re-industrialise Europe through new bio-based value chains, securing sustainable biomass supply.

            The new Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2016-2017 dedicates €371 million to 38 topics that respect the multi-actor approach (MAA) for agriculture, food and forestry projects. Proposals need to demonstrate that they are targeting actual needs of end users, and aim at demand-driven innovation. The reasoning behind the multi-actor approach is that the people who need the solutions can also help to shape them by being involved right from the start and throughout the whole project: from defining the questions to implementing research activities, and up to participating in demonstrations and dissemination.

This cross-fertilisation of ideas between different actors with complementary knowledge (farmers and farmers’ groups, advisers, enterprises, researchers and others) should lead to innovative solutions that are more likely to be applied in the field.

            For 2016-2017, four points have been strengthened in the multiactor approach:

1) The project proposal must demonstrate how the objectives and activities target needs and opportunities from practice.

2) The engagement of actors with complementary knowledge should be reflected in the proposed consortium, and mediation between them is strongly recommended.

3) All multi-actor projects should contribute to the EIP-AGRI by producing a number of practice abstracts respecting the common EIP-AGRI format.

4) Involvement of relevant interactive innovation groups operating in the EIP-AGRI context is strongly recommended.

            Thematic networks are a particular format of multi-actor projects. They collect and develop existing but insufficiently used scientific knowledge and best practices. The specific themes of the projects may be chosen bottom-up, prioritising the most urgent needs of agriculture and forestry production. The proposals should:

  • focus on existing best practices and research results that are close to being put into practice, but that are not sufficiently known by people in the field.
  • collect this knowledge and make it ready for practice, for instance through information sheets and audio-visual material. This end user material should be easily accessible and understandable. It should be made available beyond the lifespan of the project through the main existing dissemination channels which farmers often use, and also through the EIP-AGRI database.

            In 2016, thematic networks funded with a total of €10 million will contribute to a more competitive and sustainable agriculture (see RUR-10-2016-2017). Five networks started in 2015 and four to five more projects will start in early 2016. Together with the output from the networks funded by the 2016 and 2017 calls, they will enrich the EIP-AGRI database with concrete solutions that farmers can easily implement.

            The call on Sustainable Food Security dedicates €431 million to ensure sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all, while safeguarding natural resources. Tackling the challenge of how to feed 9 billion people sustainably by 2050, this call puts approaches that aim at using nature and resources better at the heart of research investments. It strongly focuses on climate-smart and environment-smart production systems. It also aims to improve the nutritional added value and the safety of food. Considering the global character of the challenge, it invests in international cooperation with €52 million dedicated to cooperation between Europe and China and Africa. The call is structured around six main areas:

  • More resilient and resource efficient value chains
  • Environment-smart and climate-smart primary production
  • A competitive food industry
  • Healthy and safe food diets for all
  • Support to the Implementation of the EU-Africa Partnership on Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture
  • Implementation of the EU-China FAB Flagship initiative

            The €128 million Rural Renaissance call is about opportunities for sustainable rural growth, looked at through integrated approaches, cutting across sectors and taking a territorial perspective. It has the ambition to modernise policies and governance, and foster new business developments. The projects should boost innovation, advising and demonstration approaches in a spirit of co-creation and exchange of knowledge. To this end the call will invest in better decision-making, in new business models and in people, enhancing social and human capital through improved skills and innovation systems. With the solutions that will be created and shared through projects funded under Rural Renaissance, rural areas could have it all: more and better jobs, a better environment, and better social and territorial cohesion.

            Projects may address:

  • New approaches towards policies and governance
  • New value chains and business models
  • Innovation and skill development

            Bio-based innovation (BB) for sustainable goods and services supporting the development of a European bioeconomy. This €27 million call will help to secure a sustainable biomass supply for bio-based goods and services and will support the future development of bio-based markets.

            Projects address:

  • Securing sustainable biomass supply for bio-based goods and services
  • Building the “bio-based markets of the future”

            Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) can also get EU funding and support for innovative projects via Horizon 2020, that will help them develop and expand into other countries – in Europe and beyond.

            All EU funds are geared towards the European Union’s growth strategy ‘EU 2020’. Within this strategy, the EU has set five objectives to be reached by 2020 which will help to build a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy:

  • Employ 75% of 20-64 year-olds.
  • Invest 3% of the EU’s economic growth in Research & Development.
  • Lower greenhouse gas emissions to 20%, generate 20% of energy from renewables and increase energy efficiency by 20%.
  • Reduce the rates of early school leaving to below 10% and get at least 40% of 30-34 year-olds to complete third level education.
  • Reduce by at least 20 million the number of people at risk of poverty and social exclusion.

            If you answer ‘yes’ to one of the following questions, your request for EU funding will have more chance of being approved. Highlighting these criteria in your application (or those applicable to the grant to which you apply) might improve your chances of being successful.

  • Will my project create jobs?
  • Will my project create knowledge?
  • Will my project increase people’s income?
  • Will my project lower my energy consumption?
  • Will my project increase skills?

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

BUDGET: €95 billion.

AIMS: Improve competitiveness for farming and forestry, protect the environment and the countryside, improve the quality of life and diversification of the rural economy, and support locally based approaches to rural development.

WHAT TYPE OF FUNDING? Grants and subsidies for projects and contractual commitments provided by regions or countries implementing their rural development programmes.

WHO FOR? Farmers, foresters, rural businesses, groups, organisations.

The Rural Development Programmes implemented by the Member States or regions may use up to 18 different measures to support rural development. When it comes to innovation in particular, they may provide funding to set up and run ‘Operational Groups’ (see below) working on pilot projects to develop new products, to cooperate among small operators, to promote products etc. These programmes can also support knowledge transfer, advisory services, investments in physical assets and the establishment of networks or innovation support services. Operational Groups and innovation support services are new approaches to innovation in the rural development policy 2014-2020.

EIP-AGRI Operational Groups

            Operational Groups are groups assembling different people such as farmers, researchers, advisors, businesses and NGOs, set up to work on finding an innovative solution to a shared problem or issue. Size and composition of an Operational Group depend on the project itself. Therefore, one Operational Group can look completely different from another. The results and knowledge developed by an Operational Group must be shared via the EIP-AGRI Network so it can benefit other farmers, foresters and industries in Europe. If you have an innovative idea that you would like to develop through such a group, it is worthwhile to have a look at how your region or country’s Rural Development Programme can offer support and when calls for proposals will be published.

            Sometimes it is not enough to offer stand-alone funding for groups cooperating on innovation projects. Innovation Support Services and brokering will play a crucial role in getting many worthwhile projects off the ground. Innovation Support Services can take the lead developing initiatives that connect actors with an interest in, and ideas on finding an innovative solution to a shared problem. These activities can be supported by Rural Development Programmes.

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

BUDGET: Approximately €200 billion.

AIMS: Strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions.

FOCUS: Research and innovation; digital agenda; SME competitiveness; low-carbon economy.

WHAT TYPE OF FUNDING? Grants and other types of financial support provided by regions implementing their Operational Programmes.

WHO FOR? SMEs, research centres, universities, local and regional authorities, training centres, non-profit organisations.

The ERDF will strengthen research and innovation in the EU Member States through a variety of actions:

  • Supporting people who are directly engaged in developing innovative solutions and in the economic exploitation of new ideas through: advisory and support services, direct investments, and financial instruments that help access private sources of funding.
  • Investing in infrastructure, equipment, pilot product lines, and advanced manufacturing necessary for applied research and innovation activities, including
  • technologies that create capabilities for further innovation in a range of other sectors.
  • Facilitating cooperation, networking activities and partnerships among different innovation actors working in the same field – universities, research and technological centres, SMEs and large firms – to achieve synergies and technology transfers.

INTERREG: Cooperating between regions

ERDF also provides funding for several European territorial cooperation activities including the Interregional cooperation programmes known as ‘INTERREG’. There are three types of INTERREG programmes: interregional cooperation between crossborder regions, between states in a given part of Europe, and between regions throughout the whole of Europe. The interregional cooperation programme for 2014-2020 ‘INTERREG EUROPE’ is open to all regions and supports mainly the exchange of practices at regional policy level. Cross-border and transnational cooperation programmes may support investments more widely, including in the agri-food chain.

European Social Fund (ESF)

BUDGET: Minimum €80 billion.

AIMS: Investing in human capital to improve job opportunities for all EU citizens.

FOCUS: Improving skills and jobs, favouring employment, mobility and social inclusion, fighting poverty.

WHAT TYPE OF FUNDING: Grants and other forms of support provided by regions and Member States.

WHO FOR? Businesses, public bodies, schools and training centres, universities and non-profit organisations.

            The ESF helps entrepreneurs set up and boost their own companies and businesses by improving their skills and the skills of their workers. For example, the ESF supports actions focusing on:

  • Better skills to adapt to changes such as increased global competition, or tackle opportunities such as development of the low-carbon economy, be more competitive, and adopt new and innovative ways of working.
  • Improving export performance, which can open new markets and create new jobs.
  • Helping entrepreneurs and the self-employed with training in basic management, legal, and financial skills for setting up a business. Some projects use business mentors to help entrepreneurs through the critical first years. Other projects promote networks of entrepreneurs to exchange experiences and offer support.
  • Micro-finance to help small businesses set up their business in situations which banks would find too risky. In the field of agriculture, food and forestry, the ESF could support innovation by promoting lifelong learning and increased investment in human resources, dissemination of information and communication technologies, e-learning, eco-friendly technologies, as well as helping to fund business start-ups.

            Portugal is deploying ESF funding to improve the skills of its workforce and create more job opportunities for all citizens. Social inclusion measures are helping boost employment and equality in Portugal’s regions including the Azores and Madeira.

            Across Europe and in Portugal the ESF is supporting the labour market, helping people get better jobs and ensuring fairer living standards and more employment opportunities for all EU citizens. It is doing this by investing in Europe’s human capital – its workers, its young people, disadvantaged groups and all those seeking a job. Tens of thousands of ESF projects are active in Europe’s cities, towns, rural communities and neighbourhoods. They are opening doors to better skills, work, qualifications and a more inclusive society for all Europeans.

            Portugal is deploying ESF funding to tackle unemployment, and in particular joblessness among young people through the Youth Employment Initiative. Training for skills and qualifications is a main priority, as shown for example in the Reactivate project, and the overall aim is to raise the employment level to 75% of the working population by 2020. Projects are developing the entrepreneurial skills of managers and workers in some 22,000 SMEs, boosting their qualifications and competences. In Madeira and the Azores, training on how to run a business is underway to encourage much –needed entrepreneurship and micro-businesses on the islands.

            The ESF is investing in social inclusion measures across Portugal and its remote regions. Activities are aimed at building better access to social and health services in rural and island regions and for disadvantaged groups. Appropriate skills training is available to help the low-qualified and those at risk of social exclusion secure a job and enjoy better work opportunities. The ESF is supporting local development strategies and social enterprises as tools for employment and social cohesion, as shown in the Criactividade project in Vila Real.

            ESF investments are also supporting better education in Portugal, to ensure that skills and qualifications are aligned to the needs of the jobs market. In addition, measures are being taken to reduce the number of early school-leavers and ensure more children  obtain valuable qualifications at school. The ESF is also supporting projects that contribute to Portugal’s objective of 40% of its young people completing tertiary education.

Horizon 2020

BUDGET: €80 billion including €4 billion for sustainable agriculture, forestry, food, bioeconomy and marine resources.

FOCUS: Research and innovation (excellent science, industrial leadership, societal challenges).

WHAT TYPE OF FUNDING: Calls for projects and actions addressing specific topics are layed out in 2-year work programmes. The majority of projects receive grants, but other types of support are also available (access to finance, innovation prizes, public procurement.).

WHO FOR? Small and medium sized enterprises, industry, universities, research institutes, but also other types of actors such as farming organisations or farm advisory services.

            The part of Horizon 2020 which is the most relevant to agriculture, food and forestry innovation is the societal challenge 2 “Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy”. Themes tackled include the sustainable increase of productivity, fostering delivery of ecosystem services, empowering rural people and developing sustainable forestry practices. In most cases you can apply for funding for research and innovation projects with at least three partners in three different member states. Horizon 2020 calls include in particular several opportunities to support multinational innovation projects in agriculture, through thematic networks and through multi-actor projects involving different types of actors such as farmers, advisors, researchers, agribusiness.

            There are also some possibilities for mono-participant projects, such as those financed by the ‘SME instrument’ which helps high-potential SMEs to develop innovative ideas for products, services or processes that are ready to face global market competition.

            Other parts of Horizon 2020 are also of potential interest:

Fast Track to Innovation (FTI) will operate in 2015 – 2016 on the basis of a continuously open call. It has a yearly budget of €100 million. The FTI supports innovative projects in any type of technological area, including agrifood, carried out by groups of three to five legal entities in three Member States who wish to promote promising, innovative ideas on the market.


BUDGET: €1.14 billion.

FOCUS: Innovation in all sectors.

WHAT TYPE OF FUNDING? Grants for development of new products, services or processes provided on a country-by-country basis.

WHO FOR? Consortia must include at least one research and development performing small or medium sized enterprise (SME). Other participants can be of any kind (industries, universities and research institutes).

            Eurostars is a joint programme supported by 33 countries involved in the EUREKA network and the EU. It supports research-performing small and medium sized enterprises which develop innovative products, processes, and services to gain competitive advantage. Eurostars does this by providing funding for transnational innovation projects, the products of which are then rapidly commercialised. It applies across all market fields, including agriculture, food and forestry.

            Eurostars supports three types of projects, for example:

  • Individual projects: market-oriented R&D projects led by SMEs.
  • Clusters: long-term industrial initiatives that aim to develop generic technologies of key importance for European competitiveness (such as Information Technology, Energy, Communication, and Water which are the four supported so far).
  • Umbrella projects: thematic networks promoting EUREKA projects in their own business area (such as manufacturing, materials, tourism, and agrifood, the four supported so far).


BUDGET: €2.3 billion.

FOCUS: Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).

WHAT TYPE OF FUNDING: Several types of instruments depending on calls.

WHO FOR? Entrepreneurs, in particular SMEs as well as persons wishing to set up a business.

            The Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (COSME) programme will support SMEs in four different areas, three of which may be of direct interest:

  • Access to finance: COSME will finance guarantees provided by financial intermediaries, sharing the risk and encouraging them to support SMEs. It will also support equity funds providing businesses with venture capital and mezzanine funding.
  • Access to markets: COSME supports the Enterprise Europe Network, which all businesses can freely approach via the local partner in their region. They offer advice on EU funding opportunities, assistance to find business partners abroad or expand abroad, advice on EU access to finance, support for innovation, and technology transfer.
  • Supporting entrepreneurs: support for education, development of entrepreneurship, mentoring, and exchange activities for young entrepreneurs and women entrepreneurs. In addition, COSME works with administrations to promote more favourable conditions for business creation and growth.

European Investment Fund

            The European Investment Fund supports Europe’s micro, Small and Medium Sized businesses (SMEs) by improving their access to funding (it does not lend money directly). The EIF can support agricultural, food and forestry SMEs through banks and other financial intermediaries such as microfinance institutions, private equity, and venture capital funds. If you have an innovative idea that could actually lead to a new company, the financial intermediaries of the European Investment Fund may give you the push you need.

Cohesion Fund

            The Cohesion Fund is aimed at Member States whose Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90 % of the EU average. It aims to reduce economic and social disparities and to promote sustainable development. For the 2014-2020 period, the Cohesion Fund includes Portugal.

            The Cohesion Fund allocates a total of € 63.4 billion to activities under the following categories:

  • trans-European transport networks, notably priority projects of European interest as identified by the EU. The Cohesion Fund will support infrastructure projects under the Connecting Europe Facility;
  • environment: here, the Cohesion Fund can also support projects related to energy or transport, as long as they clearly benefit the environment in terms of energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, developing rail transport, supporting intermodality, strengthening public transport, etc.

            European LEADER Association for Rural Development (ELARD) works for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for the rural areas. ELARD is convinced that the LEADER methodology is an ideal tool for supporting the Europe 2020 Strategy aims in terms of “smart”, “sustainable” and “inclusive” growth. Thousands of Local Action Groups have demonstrated that applying the specific features of the LEADER methodology can help to find both innovative and environmentally and socially sustainable solutions for rural development and help mobilising the unique human, social, economic and cultural potential of rural Europe. In fact, bringing the LEADER approach to the use of the people of a new territory can work as an innovation in its own right.

            Local Action Groups have instigated a new sense of optimism in the rural areas. They have been successful in creating and maintaining hundreds of thousands of jobs, levering in private investment, sparking off innovation and in animating people to work voluntarily for the development of their territory. The LEADER approach has worked as a tool in animating young people and women to work in Local Action Groups as well as in improving the quality of life of different age and gender groups through the projects implemented.  LEADER has built a new kind of confidence for the future and helped to slow down the rural exodus.

            Based on the good experiences of its members, ELARD stands that the LEADER method is a highly cost-effective way of supporting “smart”, “sustainable” and “inclusive” growth for the rural areas of Europe.

Rural development 2014-2020

            The EU’s rural development policy helps the rural areas of the EU to meet the wide range of economic, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century. Frequently called “the second pillar” of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it complements the system of direct payments to farmers and measures to manage agricultural markets (the so-called “first pillar”). Rural Development policy shares a number of objectives with other European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF).

            Member States and regions draw up their rural development programmes based on the needs of their territories and addressing at least four of the following six common EU priorities:

  • fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas;
  • enhancing the viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture, and promoting innovative farm technologies and sustainable forest management;
  • promoting food chain organisation, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture;
  • restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry;
  • promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors;
  • promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas.

            The rural development priorities are broken down into “focus areas”. For example, the priority on resource efficiency includes focus areas “reducing greenhouse gas and ammonia emissions from agriculture” and “fostering carbon conservation and sequestration in agriculture and forestry”. Within their RDPs, Member States or regions set quantified targets against these focus areas. They then set out which measures they will use to achieve these targets and how much funding they will allocate to each measure. At least 30% of funding for each RDP must be dedicated to measures relevant for the environment and climate change and at least 5% to LEADER. 


            European Structural and Investment Funds include the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the Cohesion Fund, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).

            This Partnership agreement will provide the country with a total of €21.46 billion under the cohesion policy (including the first three funds) for the period 2014-2020. This amount includes funding from the European territorial cooperation (Interreg) and for the youth employment initiative.

            Portugal will also receive a grant of €4.06 billion for rural development. Most of the Portuguese territory is composed of “less developed” regions that have the possibility to benefit of three funds of the cohesion policy.

            The financial breakdown is as follows:

€ 16.67 billion for less developed regions (Norte, Centro, Alentejo and Açores);

€ 257.6 million for transition regions (Algarve);

€ 1.28 billion for more developed regions (Lisboa and Madeira);

€ 2.86 billion through the Cohesion Fund;

€ 122.4 million for European Territorial Cooperation (Interreg);

€ 115.7 million special allocation for the outermost regions;

€ 160.8 million for the Youth Employment Initiative.

            Of this, ESF in Portugal will represent € 7.6 billion which will help redress the social impact of the economic crisis and support a job-rich recovery.

            In the framework of the previous programming period the total amount of funding for cohesion policy was almost the same and many projects have been funded, such as actions to improve urban transport systems, to expand access to broadband Internet, to invest in more than 12,200 companies, to develop systems of protection against fires and floods.

            Some of the priorities for the period 2014-2020 are:

  • Improvement of entrepreneurship and business innovation (development of e-economy and improvement of SMEs’ access to finance);
  • Stimulate the transfer of R&D knowledge between universities and businesses, development of an innovation-friendly business environment;
  • Improvement of economic competitiveness by improving the production of tradable goods and services;
  •  Fight against unemployment, improvement of the quality of education and training, improvement of qualifications and skills of the workforce and prevention of early school leaving;
  • Reduction of poverty, support for the social economy;
  • Contribution to the modernization of public administration through capacity building and e-governance;
  • Support the transition to a low carbon and resource efficient economy.

            An important novelty of the 2014-2020 programming period is the importance given to local governments within the European Union. Indeed, they will be responsible for implementing approximately 40% of all funds, against 25% for 2007-2013. Finally, in Portugal, a total of 7 regional operational programmes will be implemented and the National Operational programmes (ERDF, ESF, Cohesion fund etc.).

            In Portugal, the official LEADER organisation is Minha Terra (Federação Portuguesa de Associações de Desenvolvimento Local). In Portuguese “Minha Terra” means “My Land.”

            Minha Terra’s description: The need of a more collaborative approach to rural development, associated with the set of technical and financial possibilities offered by some EU programmes (mainly the LEADER programme), raised the opportunity that made possible the creation of Local Development Associations. Given this context, a movement for establishing Local Development Associations emerged in rural areas throughout the country, during the late eighties. This process evolved through the creation of partnerships between: local authorities, cultural associations, schools, agricultural producers associations, local companies, etc.

            Although “Minha Terra” was established recently (official registry in 15-02-2000 and election of officers in 18-04-2000), our organization has already 48 members. These 49 local development associations represent more than 1.000 organizations and local authorities, linking a total of almost 200.000 persons and covering around 80% of the national territory (more than 250 municipalities). The formation process of “Minha Terra” resulted from the dialogue between several entities working in rural areas. We consider that the consolidation of our organization is a continuous work that should result from the participation of the entities that converge in the rural development aim. Today Minha Terra is represented and/or is partner in several organisations and committees, among those:

CES – Portuguese Social and Economic Council – CNADR – National Agriculture and Rural Development Council

ELARD – European LEADER Association for Rural Development

The National LEADER+ Program Committee

The Portuguese Rural Development Program (RURIS) 2000-2006 Committee

The Portuguese Rural Development Program (PRODER) 2007-2013 Committee   Minha Terra also organized and participated on several projects and initiatives under Portuguese LEADER official network (seminars, training programs, and exhibitions), other Portuguese training programs, and EQUAL Community Initiative Program (good practice dissemination).

            Minha Terra was established as several Local Development Associations attained some degree of experience and started to consolidate their intervention. The convergence around rural development aims and the dialogue between several associations, contributed to the awareness of the need of an organization able to provide technical and managerial support to the emerging cooperation initiatives.

            The 52 associate organisations in Minha Terra represent, as a whole, over 90% of the country and its capacity for initiative and implementation of direct concern to more than 4 million Portuguese residents in rural areas. The representativeness of the federal ADL values the specificities of each territory and authenticates to the intervention and the projects in it, expressing the dynamism of the forces of rural civil society as agents of their own development.

            Some past Minha Terra projects: .

If you need further information:

EIP-AGRI Service Point

Avenue du Toison d’Or 72

1060 Brussels


By telephone: +32 2 543 73 48

By e-mail: [email protected]

Through our website:

Twitter: @EIPAGRI_SP


LinkedIn company: EIP-AGRI Service



Gabinete de Planeamento e Políticas (GPP)

Phone: 00 351 213 819 319


Managing Authorities



DGADR / Ministério da Agricultura, do Desenvolvimento Rural e das Pescas

Tapada da Ajuda – Edifico 1

1349-018 Lisboa

T: +351 213 613 271

F: +351 213 613 277

[email protected]

LEADER+, National Network Unit , Ag:


Rui Verissimo BATISTA

Rede Portuguesa Leader+

Tapada da Ajuda – Edifício 1

P- 1349-018 Lisboa

[email protected]

T: + 351 213613271

F: + 351 213613277

DGADR / Ministério da Agricultura, do Desenvolvimento Rural e das Pescas

Director-Geral da Direcção-Geral de Agricultura e Desenvolvimento Rural


Tapada da Ajuda – Edifico 1

1349-018 Lisboa

e-mail: [email protected]

Tel.: +351 213 613 271 / Fax.: +351 213 613 277

DGADR / Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries

Mr. Rui Verissimo BATISTA

Head of Project Leader+

Tapada da Ajuda – Edifico 1

1349-018 Lisboa

e-mail: [email protected] [BAD email]

Tel.: +351 213 613 257 / Fax.: +351 213 577 380

Rede Portuguesa Leader+ (National Network)

Mr. Rui Verissimo BATISTA, Head of Leader+ Programme

Tapada da Ajuda – Edifício 1

1349-018 Lisboa

e-mail: [email protected]

Tel.: +351 213 184 307 / Fax.: +351 213 577 380

Network Support Unit (NSU)

Estrutura Técnica de Animação da Rede Rural Nacional

Av. Afonso Costa, n.º 3 – 7.º

1949-002 LISBOA


Telephone: +351 218442382

Fax: +351 218442380

E-mail: [email protected]

Contact person: Maria Custódia Correia, NRN coordinator

E-mail: [email protected]


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