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Use of waste and by-products from typical Mediterranean crops as soil improvers in the production of fruit, vegetables, mushrooms and as starting material for food supplements production

Place: Sassari, italy, Europe
Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products Quantitative & qualitative enhancement of crop products
Total Budget: € 0,00 | Period: From February 2013 To February 2014

Summary

The realization of this project will produce innovations at both socio-cultural and technical-scientific level.
The definition of the peculiar characteristics of the polyphenolic pool of the considered by-products will give them a commercial value increasing trade and commerce. This material can be reused in some productions locally or sold to abroad production companies.
The results from this project are lasting in time as they do not require a reversal of the local production mechanisms, nor the introduction of technologies heavy and difficult to manage. They are in fact sustainable and compatible with the different local production and integrate with them, allowing the management also by small dimensioned production realities. At the same time the positive results on the quantity and quality of fruit and vegetable products treated with the selected by-products will promote this kind of methods and will allow their diffusion.

Partnership

CIHEAM Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari - Italy

Lead applicant

The Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (MAIB) is a Centre for post-graduate training, applied scientific research and design of in-loco partnership actions in the framework of the international cooperation programmes. It works in four thematic areas: “Land and water resources management”, “Integrated pest management of Mediterranean fruit and vegetable crops”, “Mediterranean organic agriculture” and “Sustainable agriculture, food and rural development”.

Funghitalia-Azienda Agricola De Biasi Donato - Italy

Initiative partner

cultivation and sale of mushrooms, substrates inoculated and incubated, business consulting to mushroom growers

Institute of Biology, Moleculare Medicine, NanoBiotechnologies-National Research Council - Italy

Initiative partner

The National Research Council (CNR) is a public organization; its duty is to carry out, promote, spread, transfer and improve research activities in the main sectors of knowledge growth and of its applications for the scientific, technological, economic and social development

Various compounds of plant origin present in the by-products of horticultural productions can have different beneficial biological characteristics, like antioxidant properties. Depending on their composition, some of these compounds can be used to control the effects of some diseases involving oxidative stress (certain types of cancer, metabolic disorders), but also as nutritional supplements. The idea is to collect and analyze food wastes from the processing of some typical Mediterranean crops (eg olives). These wastes can be used, according to their composition, as animal feed supplements or as soil improvers in the production of fruit, vegetables, and mushrooms. They can also be used as starting material for food supplements production and as a source of trade both domestically and with third countries.

The realization of this project will produce innovations at both socio-cultural and technical-scientific level. First the definition of the polyphenolic composition of some local productions, will allow to study their antioxidant properties with the aim of improving the understanding of the mechanisms of action of these compounds

The definition of the peculiar characteristics of the polyphenolic pool of the considered products will give them a commercial value increasing trade and commerce. This material can be reused in some productions locally or sold to abroad production companies.
 

Diagram - process of olive oil production Diagram showing the main steps of the process of olive oil production www.flottweg.de
The terminal phase of the production The terminal phase of the production process of olive oil www.ilsole24ore.com
Virgin olive pomace oil free. Virgin olive pomace oil free. It contains crushed stone, peel and pulp of the olive drupe www.sorgeniablog.it

Hydroxytyrosol (3,4-dihydroxyphenethyl alcohol) showed a free radical scavenging capacity with a double or triple activity compared to that of quercetin or epicatechin respectively. Hydroxytyrosol is one of the main components of the phenol fraction identified in the fruit of the olive, a very widespread tree in the Mediterranean.
Unfortunately, being a hydrophilic molecule and thus poorly soluble in lipidic matrices, most of the hydroxytyrosol contained in the
Hydroxytyrosol may be either extracted from wastewaters (but the process does not seem economically convenient) or may be obtained from the wastewater at the end of the manufacturing process.  Synthetic process includes reduction of 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, hydrolysis of oleuropein and enzymatic conversion of tyrosol and oleuropein.
The synthetic process necessary is easy to perform and can be done in a sustainable way. 

Certain by-products of horticultural productions containing polyoxygenated aromatic compounds (PAC) were used without further processing for the supplementation of the substrates for the cultivation of fruits, vegetables and mushrooms. This has resulted in an improvement of the quality and quantity of the produce. Some of the PAC present in the by-products of horticultural productions were synthesized and tested for their biological activities. Some of them were effective as free radical scavengers and as inhibitors of the growth of molds known for their ability to contaminate food commodities (eg Aspergillus carbonarius) and to synthesize mycotoxins (eg ochratoxin A). 
The achieved results may have a tangible impact on people and context since these compounds can exert a significant enhancement of the produce being able to control fungal infections and mycotoxin production. Moreover, different PAC, having a marked antioxidant activity, may have a beneficial effect on human health.

First group of beneficiaries is made up by the owners of productive activities where by-products originate (mills). They will solve the problem of disposing such a material, which, if not managed properly, is polluting.
A second group is made up by the managers of productive activities that can benefit from the use of by-products (eg farmers, mushroom growers).
A third and larger group is made up by the entire population of the territory that can use high quality food products, produced using the resources of the territory.
A case in point:
Oil producer sells part of the by-product of his mill to a small company located nearby that produces fine mushrooms and/or fruit and vegetables, and another part to a big company that provides products to a big pharmaceutical company. The by-products of olives processing (e.g. vegetation water) will become sources of income through local and international trade. The small company will produce quality products for both domestic market and for export

Researchers and technicians from the institutions involved who will share their knowledge and experiences, local info points, local farmers, skilled personnel for the training of local technicians who will explain how to use the by-products and the benefits that will accrue. Representatives of local associations of trade for the dissemination of knowledge of the benefits arising from the use of by-products considered.

One of the main obstacles is given by distrust in introducing innovations in the cultivation of local products. This obstacle will be overcome through the intervention of local technical staff, formed thanks to the contribution of technical and scientific staff of research institutions involved. The local technical staff is the ideal means for the presentation of the new procedures and to place them in the context of production processes strongly characterized in the territory.

The realization of this project will have a positive impact on the environment because it allows using some of the by-products of food products typical of the Mediterranean area (eg olives, tomatoes) which may otherwise give rise to environmental pollution. These products (eg vegetation waters from the production of olive oil or table olives) will become part of the cycle of production of other foods (such as fruit and vegetables or mushrooms), thus helping to increase production both quantitatively and qualitatively. Moreover, the use of some of the considered by products can exert a preventive action on the proliferation of weeds and on the attack by potentially pathogenic microorganisms, reducing the use of synthetic pesticides and fungicides.

 

The results from this project are lasting in time as they do not require a reversal of the local production mechanisms, nor the introduction of technologies heavy and difficult to manage. They are in fact compatible with the different local production and integrate with them, allowing the management also by small-dimensioned production realities. At the same time, the positive results on the quantity and quality of fruit and vegetable products treated with the selected by-products will promote this kind of methods and will allow their diffusion.

The communication and dissemination of results will be made on two parallel levels: first, a communication made locally in a capillary way through to the use of local staff who take personal contacts with the local production. On the other hand, the dissemination of results will be made even more widely thanks to the links of each of the institutions involved and through the  participation in events (such as conferences, fairs) organized at the international level.