The Hungarian Expert Group of the GO-GRASS project has been established
The last December, our expert group for the implementation of the GO-GRASS project in Hungary was established, in the form of an online workshop.
GO-GRASS aims to make sustainable use of the resources inherent in our neglected or underutilised grasslands. Namely, by developing circular business models for rural entrepreneurs, based on the examples of four different demonstration countries (the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Germany), thus helping to increase nutrient supply and raw material self-sufficiency, and to reduce energy consumption.
Another important goal of the project is to replicate the technical and institutional solutions which have been worked out, with the help of three so-called adherent countries: Hungary, Romania and Spain. Thus, in the domestic implementation of the project, we have to select and make available the most suitable example(s) for stakeholders in the Hungarian agricultural and food industry, from the results of the four demonstration sites. The Expert Group is designed to support precisely this goal. The multi-stakeholder nature of the group – that is, bringing together not only grassland farmers, but also landowners, processors, traders, technology experts, researchers and state bodies responsible for nature conservation management – allows us to integrate stakeholders' interests into the Hungarian implementation process as comprehensively as possible. From the examples of the four demonstration sites, we work with the experts in the group to select those most adaptable to domestic conditions by exploring the environmental, economic, regulatory and other challenges facing the stakeholders, and by developing domestic value chains for the selected example(s), as well as sustainable business model(s) and financing strategies built upon them.
During the workshop in December, the participants were first given detailed information about the GO-GRASS project, and also got to know one another. They then began to review and select examples from the four demonstration sites. The participants noted that overall they saw the German biochar example as the most feasible in the Hungarian context. The technology for adapting the German example (hydrothermal carbonization, pyrolysis) already exists in Hungary, meaning that the costs of investing in new equipment could be saved. It also has a short operational supply chain, and its end product, biochar, can have the greatest overall impact in terms of improving agricultural land and reducing the use of chemicals. Moreover, the energy requirements for producing biochar seem most favourable among grass utilization options, as it is less expensive than the production of fodder hay. Additionally, it will also make it possible to retain grasslands for nature conservation purposes.
In addition to the German example, the Danish organic protein concentrate was judged by the experts to be worth implementing, as this end product has the highest useability value, and the technological production process generates by-products that may be suitable for other purposes, such as biochar or the manufacture of packaging material. That is, it would be possible to use certain examples together to create a complex value chain. On the other hand, grass refining technology is the most expensive, and no such working equipment currently exists in Hungary, meaning that serious investment would be necessary.
Besides these, the other two examples – the paper and packaging material and the manufacture of briquettes – proved of less interest to the group, and further consultation will be required regarding their implementation.
The Go-Grass project was established with the support of the European Union's Horizon 2020 program as part of a coordination and support activity, with project number GA 862674. You can read more about the project at www.go-grass.eu.