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innocent names £1m regenerative agriculture fund winners

By Bethan Grylls

- Last updated on GMT

UK-based blackcurrant supplier, Pixley Berries, is among the 11 winners of the 2024 Farmer Innovation Fund
UK-based blackcurrant supplier, Pixley Berries, is among the 11 winners of the 2024 Farmer Innovation Fund

Related tags Investment Agriculture Sustainability

Eleven farmers across the globe will receive financial backing from innocent Drinks to help support projects that safeguard the future of fruit and vegetables.

The Farmer Innovation Fund (FiF) was launched in 2021 to help support in the transition to low-carbon farming and promote projects which improved both biodiversity and fairer practice.

With more than half of the smoothie giant’s carbon footprint coming from its ingredients, investing in innovative farming practices will be key to achieving a 50% reduction of its scope 3 emissions by 2030.

This year, the pot saw an increase to £1m, with 11 recipients based across 10 countries taking a share. An external advisory board of experts was enlisted to help select the ultimate winners.

Each winning project is looking to address key agricultural challenges, including soil health, biodiversity, climate change and water use. Among the projects to be named, four are previous winners.

Nick Canney, CEO, innocent Drinks, said: “Our Farmer Innovation Fund enables us to build meaningful partnerships with our suppliers to help make sure we can keep enjoying fruit and veg for years to come. This year’s winners are embarking on some truly innovative projects that show real potential for playing a part in the future of farming. I’m proud that we’re able to support them in delivering sustainable and healthy diets.”

For Pixley Berries, a UK-based blackcurrant supplier, this is a consecutive win, having been a 2023 FiF recipient.

Anna Ralph, managing director at Pixley Berries, commented: “Regenerative farming is a learning curve and being a winner for the second year running means we can advance our work to identify pragmatic approaches with deliverable benefits to blackcurrant growing and other crops.

The company’s project revolves around a bio-stimulant and a sensory device to take care of its blackcurrants.

“By combining biostimulants, measuring chlorophyll, microbials, and focusing on minimum cultivations we’re pioneering a new approach. Through this we hope to develop a revitalised agronomy fit for our times, both adapting to and mitigating climate change,” ​Ralph added.

The other winners include:

Agrarias Manchegas, a Spanish grape supplier and winner of FiF in 2022, which has plans to transform into a fully functioning smart farm.

IBERFRUTA, a fellow Spain-based supplier of peaches, will trial irrigation adjustments and install sensors to evaluate the physiological and agronomic behaviour of peach trees under deficit irrigation strategies.

Meanwhile, Aspis, a peach supplier in Greece, will carry out a lifecycle assessment of peaches, assessing and evaluating the CO2 footprint of each production stage of peach puree.

Time 4 Bee (part of the Doehler Foundation in Poland), an apple supplier in Poland and 2022 winner. Time 4 Bee will continue its plans to improve agricultural sustainability, increase biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Frutilight is another 2022 winner. The Costa Rica pineapple supplier plans to focus on a new project this time around, which will establish a biofertiliser plant specifically for pineapple cultivation.

GNT Group a carrot supplier based in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany will work with select farmers to create plots of wildflowers, herbs and plants that attract pollinators and increase biodiversity.

Mother Dairy, an Indian-based mango supplier will carry out a baseline report and educate farmers about the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on climate change and their livelihood.

Netherlands-based chicory root fiber supplier, Sensus, meanwhile, aims for 20-30% crop yield improvement by trialling seed-embedding technology to stimulate uniform crop growth.

Sol Organica, a passion fruit and dragon fruit supplier in Nicaragua will implement the conversion of food waste into compost to reduce costs, sequester carbon and reduce methane emissions.

And finally, SVZ, another winner for Spain and a supplier of strawberries, will implement a HIDRIX system to optimise water and fertiliser consumption.

innocent says it will be monitoring the funded projects and intends to share the learnings with the wider industry.

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