The third stakeholders meeting that make up the Strategic Committee of the Interreg Europe Qualify project took place on Wednesday 26 November.

Qualify Strategic Committee is currently made up of more than 80 professionals from different fields of work (Administration, Industry, Research and Civil Society). The functions of this body are to identify the needs of agri-food SMEs and to define the key actions that allow to promote the competitiveness of Catalan SMEs through the improvement of food quality own-control systems, authenticity and the fight against food fraud.

In addition, being a project co-financed by ERDF funds, another line of work focuses on establishing a diagnosis of the current situation on the use and scope of financial and non-financial instruments in Catalonia, to assess whether they already plan to respond the specific goals of Qualify, or, if not, drive changes to improve them.

Prior to the general meeting, a total of four smaller online workshops were held to address a discussion session and make a more accurate diagnosis of the situation. Due to the current situation for COVID-19, both the workshops and the general meeting were held online.

The central theme of this third stakeholders meeting was food quality own-control systems, corresponding to the current semester. There were a total of 59 attendees.

The session was started by Mrs. Glòria Cugat i Pujol, Deputy Director General of Agri-Food Inspection and Control, with the welcome and presentation of the day.

Then, Mrs. Maria Peña presented the challenges of Catalan agri-food SMEs in terms of fraud prevention and Good Practices identified in the framework of the project.

Subsequently, Mr. Ricard Esparza presented the financial instruments in response to the challenges of Catalan agri-food SMEs identified in the QUALIFY project.

Then, a representative of each of the four working groups met the previous days presented the most relevant conclusions of their corresponding workshop. And Mr. Joaquim Domingo presented the overall results of the four workshops together.

Finally, a round of questions was opened among the participants, which was quite active, where various issues were discussed and pointed out in the framework of food quality own-control systems.

Points of great importance were highlighted regarding the diagnosis of the current situation of agri-food SMEs and their challenges, as well as proposals for action to address and achieve these challenges, in terms of:

  • Training, advice and dissemination of knowledge in relation to the subject of the project.
  • Tools for innovation and digitization of the agri-food chain. 
  • Information and support for the knowledge and demand for public instruments available to these SMEs. 

The session was closed with the proposal of the next meeting of the Qualify Strategic Committee to address the theme of the coming semester, the promotion, differentiation and use of the differential added value of agri-food products, which will take place in the spring of next year 2021.

This type of session allows an exchange of knowledge between agri-food experts that leads to adopt an integral vision of the diagnosis and the performances in each thematic field. At the same time, it facilitates the identification of those Good Practices that are carried out, all in order to achieve the objective of Qualify, to foster the competitiveness of Catalan agri-food SMEs.