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State creating €833,000 farming green goals metrics analysis tool

Barley field in Estonia.
Barley field in Estonia. Source: Olev Kenk/ERR

The Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture is creating a tool which will enable the agricultural sector to better assess ways in which they can move towards more sustainable food production in Estonia.

The project will cost the Government Office €833,0000.

The funding for the development and testing of the prototype will be derived from the public sector innovation program.

Sandra Salom, land use policy advisor at the Ministry of Regional Affairs and Agriculture, said that since CO2 emissions in the Estonian agricultural sector are rising, finding an answer to the question of how to reorganize activities so that they meet environmental and climate goals, without hampering productivity, is needed.

The prototype of a web-based tool will, Salom says, aid agricultural companies in getting an overview of the current state of their production and what changes would help them move towards more sustainable food production.

The need to create a "green traffic light" to that end became clear when communicating directly with farmers ion the topic, Salom said.

"The tool will contribute to the application of new knowledge, skills, methods and technologies necessary to meet climate goals," she said, adding that this "green light" tool should be automated and user-friendly.

"The goal would be that it is as logical and simple as filling out and submitting an income tax return [online, in Estonia]," she added.

Ants-Hannes Viira, head of the Agricultural Research Department at the Rural Center of Estonian Rural Research and Knowledge (Maaelu Teadmuskeskus) meanwhile said metrics relating to the agricultural and food sectors are changing, with a pivot away from pure productivity and profit, to other benchmarks such as climate footprint, biodiversity and social sustainability.

Ethel Tekkel, product owner of the Agricultural Registers and Information Board's (PRIA) green light for future sustainable food production, said "We want to save the sector's working time from testing the technical side of sustainability and offer a ready-made solution for various areas of the agricultural sector in the future.

"In addition, with the help of the tool we are creating, we are trying to facilitate the availability and usability of data in order to reduce the time required for reporting," she added.

The two-year project will see a suitable methodology for assessing the sustainability of Estonian agricultural enterprises under development, with the prototype scheduled to be ready for testing on selected enterprises in 2025.

The government office is supporting the implementation of the project, financed from EU cohesion funds for the period 2021-202.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

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