Rome and Yantai collaborate on sustainable urban agriculture and viticulture


IUC cities are not allowing travel restrictions and the need for physical distancing to stop them from pursuing meaningful exchange and collaboration. This month, representatives from the University of Tuscia (Rome), the University of Yantai (Shandong Province), and the IUC Asia office met virtually to discuss research and education cooperation opportunities in the field of urban agriculture. The meeting culminated in the proposal to jointly establish a Sino-Italian Faculty of Urban Agriculture, including an Institute of Wine Sciences. Activities proposed include dual-degrees for master's students, joint research, and staff exchange opportunities.

The University of Tucsia is well placed to collaborate in such a partnership, due to its extensive ongoing international activities, including cooperation agreements in China with the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Natural Resource Science, the South China Botanical Garden, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Anhui Agricultural University.

Professor Rita BIASSI from the Department for Innovation in Biological, Agri-food and Forest Systems (DIBAF) at the University of Tuscia proposed collaborating in the field of urban/peri-urban viticulture and integrated landscape management, as a way to maintain the competitiveness of the wine sectors in light of ongoing environmental emergencies, including land degradation. Peri-urban areas surrounding large cities like Rome and Yantai are crucial for sustainable regional development, and must further develop adaptation and mitigation strategies in light of a continual reduction in fertile land alongside increasing wine consumption.

Yantai’s Vice Dean Zhongwu JIANG from the Agriculture School, who is also an expert in grape cultivation, underlined Yantai's ability to bring unique local wine industry-related resources to the collaboration, including well-equipped facilities and outstanding teaching faculties associated with the College of Life Sciences, the Yantai Agricultural Research Institute, and the Changyu Winery. This will allow students and researchers to connect programme activities with industry needs and provide curricula that focus not only on theoretical study, but also on hands-on experiences.

As concrete next steps moving forward, Yantai will be brought into ongoing Precision Agriculture work, which is being funded by the EU's LIFE programme, and in which Tuscia University is involved. This work aims to demonstrate how advanced techniques in precious viticulture can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen land degradation. The two institutions will also launch staff exchange opportunities as soon as possible, beginning with virtual exchanges if necessary. Finally, they will draft a Memorandum of Understanding and implementation plan, including specific opportunities to collaborate with local wine growers.


Header image courtesy of IUC Asia.