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Work Packages

Work Package 1

Sustainable agroforestry systems for nut and fruit production

In order to improve the understanding of existing agroforestry systems in Central Asia, SUFACHAIN will describe and analyse existing systems along a height and water availability gradient. Based on these analyses, new agro-silvopastoral and/or silvopastoral systems will be developed, which include, in addition to fruit and nut trees, lucrative crops and forage plants and/or farm animals, and take into account water extraction and drip irrigation technologies.

Work Package 2

Food processing technology

In order to make better use of the potential of forest and agroforestry fruits, research and development work is needed to improve the quality of processed products from such raw materials. This is done, for example, by reducing the food additives used in dried fruits (sulphur dioxide). Moreover, given the different raw material qualities, national food standards for wild products are necessary.

Work Package 3

Use of waste streams

The current nut and fruit processing has a low raw material efficiency. Many of the resulting by-products, such as walnut shells, can be used for higher-quality applications. The work package aims to develop a manufacturing process for ground walnut or apricot core shells, which will be used in the cosmetics industry as exfoliating particles to replace abrasive synthetic particles (“microplastics”). Given the increasing accumulation of microplastics in ecosystems, food chains and likely also in the human organism, its replacement is a central challenge for the cosmetics industry.

Work Package 4

Supply chain management and transparency

The agroforestry and non-timber forest products (NTFP) supply chains (fruit and nuts) are currently mainly based on one-off inter-actions between individual sellers and buyers. This presents challenges with regard to the traceability of these raw materials at later levels of value creation, product quality due to numerous handovers and information imbalances, the opportunistic behaviour of both sides and the high transaction costs.

Work Package 5

Monetization of ecosystem services

Compared to conventional farming and wild collection, agroforestry cultivation methods of fruits and nuts offer ecological and social benefits. Consumers are increasingly willing to pay price premiums for environmentally friendly products. Monetising this readiness can encourage local farmers to switch to more sustainable production systems. In Central Asia, small farmers and food processors are currently not considerably involved in environmental and social certification systems, thus renouncing appropriate market and income opportunities.

Work Package 6

Culinary tourism development

The acceptance of sustainable farming practices by small farmers in Central Asia depends on the availability of markets for agroforestry products. Building on the region’s enormous potential as a natural tourism destination, market niches for locally produced, sustainable agroforestry and NTFP products will be identified and developed. Since nuts, fruits and other products are of great local importance and reflect the culture and traditions of the region, their collection, production and processing offer significant potential for the development of authentic food and culinary tourism offerings.

Work Package 7

Project management and outreach

In Central Asia, players in the agroforestry /NFTP value chain currently have limited access to international markets. This is partly due to the low product quality, which can be attributed to insufficient information on market requirements and standards as well as lack of technological capacity. To support the enhancement of products and processing technologies, the project aims to provide information on project results, market requirements and quality standards, train local producers and processors and facilitate their connection to international markets.