LIFE 4Doñana: a legacy of SAI Platform’s Doñana Berry Project

15th September 2020

The approval and funding for an ambitious 3-year project to build upon the work and success of SAI Platform’s Doñana Berry Project was greeted with a sense of achievement and pride. The LIFE 4Doñana project will now pick up from where the Doñana Berry Project members had been working towards a long-term beneficial impact in the region and with the aim of replication in other strawberry producing countries.

Water management in the Doñana area was identified as a key challenge by several SAI Platform members back in 2014. A group of eight companies (Coop, Danone, Iberfruta, innocent drinks, Marks & Spencer, Migros, SVZ and Tesco) decided to collaborate in the Doñana Berry Project and invested in a 3-year training programme (2017-2020) to foster best practices on water management in the Doñana area. This activity was reinforced by the support of the Coca-Cola Foundation through two grants in 2017 and 2018 that allowed the implementation of an ambassador farm programme and tailor-made technical assistance to each of the growers.

SAI Platform has played a catalyst role by initiating a long-lasting dynamic that has contributed to improving the situation in the iconic Doñana area.”, commented Jenny Edwards, Crops Director for SAI Platform.

Since 2016, project members funded the Ferdoñana project team who provided face-to-face training on enhanced irrigation to 105 berry farmers and technicians as well as advising 75 farmers on how to implement monitoring systems for better irrigation management. The project also distributed educational materials including videos and fact sheets to over 90% of the growers in the area.

While the Doñana Berry Project has met its goals, water management challenges continue in the region. The LIFE 4Doñana project, which builds upon the achievements of SAI Platform’s Doñana Berry Project, recently received 1.2 million euros in funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union. This new project is designed to address continuing water concerns and focuses on the potential of innovative solutions for enhancing water and nutrient use in strawberry production in the Doñana area.

Ferdoñana has strengthened our relationship with growers, administrations and service providers who actively work to optimise water use in the region.”, highlighted Sébastien Guéry from the company Optiriego Consulting, who has been locally coordinating the Doñana Berry Project, and is now integrated in the consultancy firm Gabinete de Iniciativas Europeas (GIESA) who submitted the proposal and will manage this new project.

Multiple stakeholders contributed to the accomplishments of the Doñana Berry Project including the collaboration of SAI Platform members Danone, innocent drinks, Migros, SVZ and Tesco as well as funding by the Coca-Cola Foundation, advice from WWF Spain and management by NIAB EMR and Optiriego Consulting.