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AGRIMODELS Cluster: Research projects join forces to enhance agricultural EU policies

Pensoft Publishers

Science Business Announcement

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European research projects team up for a common goal - to develop novel modelling capabilities in the agricultural sector and contribute to a new architecture of agricultural policies in the European Union. AGRICORE, BESTMAP and MIND STEP build the AGRIMODELS Cluster, which aims to develop synergies among the projects to improve agricultural policy-making from different, yet complementary, perspectives.

Food and water security, carbon storage and biodiversity are threatened by processes such as land-use intensification and changing climate. European, national and regional policy makers must rethink and redesign agricultural policies to enhance the sustainability of agricultural landscapes while ensuring farmers' livelihoods.

In 2017, the European Commission opened a call for projects aiming to improve modelling capabilities for agriculture, taking advantage of progress in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) field, which would ultimately support evidence-based policy-making in the sector. As a response to this call, three projects proposed innovative approaches to increase modelling capabilities. Now, these projects act together forming the AGRIMODELS Cluster, a union to maximize potential synergies between the three consortia.

AGRICORE, BESTMAP and MIND STEP will develop modelling at various geographic scales - from regional to pan-European. They aim to build a highly modular and customisable toolset, which will allow flexible use and further improvements as needs arise.

The projects

The AGRICORE (Agent-based support tool for the development of agriculture policies) project will develop a new generation Agent-Based Model (ABM) tool taking advantage of the latest progresses in modelling and ICT. The goal is to improve the current capacity of modelling policies, which deal with agriculture. AGRICORE aims to perform the related socio-economic and environmental assessments at various geographic scales - from regional to global. The AGRICORE tool will be released as open-source so institutions can transparently update and improve the tool as needs arise, with the overall aim to improve policy design, impact assessments and monitoring.

BESTMAP (Behavioural, Ecological and Socio-economic Tools for Modelling Agricultural Policy) will develop a new modelling framework using insights from behavioural theory, linking existing economic modelling with individual-farm Agent-Based Models. This innovative modelling framework will transform future EU rural policies' design and monitoring, promoting a sustainable future for the EU agricultural sector. The project will demonstrate the new approach in five case studies regions which hold diverse agricultural, socio-economic and political backgrounds.

MIND STEP (Modelling Individual Decisions to Support the European Policies Related to Agriculture) develops Individual Decision Making (IDM) models, including agent-based models, focusing on different topics in an integrated manner in different regional case studies. The IDM models will be estimated and calibrated using agricultural statistics and big datasets, drawing on established econometric and evolving machine-learning techniques and using both traditional models of optimising behaviour and theories from behavioural economics. MIND STEP closely cooperates with a range of stakeholders to co-create and apply the MIND STEP model toolbox to selected regional, national and EU wide policy cases.

Project coordinators Carlos Leyva Guerrero (AGRICORE), Prof Guy Ziv (BESTMAP) and Hans Van Meijl (MIND STEP) envision a number of benefits resulting from this collaboration, especially developing an overarching model structure for modelling IDM farm units in the agricultural sector together with consortia working in parallel.

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