CATERPILLAR (Fiber hemp agro industrial chain for the production of functional food and animal feed additives) is a project funded by Emilia-Romagna Region within the Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, measure 16.1.01 “Agricultural European Innovation Partnership Operational Groups”, focus area 2 A.
The project is coordinated by Open Fields, a company operating in the agri-food sector, promoting innovation along the supply chains. The scientific coordinator is the Genomics and Bioinformatics Research Center of the Council for Agricultural Research and Analysis of Agricultural Economics (CREA). The Stuard demonstration farm and the Interdepartmental Center on Safety, Technologies and Agri-food Innovation of the University of Parma (SITEIA-UNIPR), Naturfibre, official producer and retailer of authorized seeds and hemp products, Agriform, accredited by the Emilia-Romagna Region for the provision of training activities, and the Ca’ D’Alfieri (Bardi, PR) and Pedrazzi (Pellegrino P.se, PR) farms are also partners of the project.
CATERPILLAR operates within the Italian hemp supply chain and aims to diversify production and increase the profitability of the crop, generating new by-products with high added value and opening up the opportunity for the farm to enter new markets. In particular, CATERPILLAR aims to strengthen the aspects linked to the food uses of products and by-products from the processing of fiber hemp.
More specifically, the project is based on the organic cultivation of monoecious hemp and on the separate collection of buds for the production of seeds and stems for the production of textile and technical fiber. The seeds will be used for the production of oil and flour, the drums will be used for the production of fiber and hemp shives. Hemp oil and flour will be used for the production of functional foods, including gluten-free ones. There fiber will be extracted from the stems in a prototype bioreactor for microbiological maceration; Larvae of the Diptera Hermetia illucens will clean up the macerated fiber. Finally, the obtained larval biomass will be used for the production of additives for the feed industry.
The Project includes educational-training activities carried out according to Measure 1 of the Regional Rural Development Programme.
Project duration: 2 years (April 2020-April 2022)
Approved Budget: € 213.609,16
Public funding: 70%
Scientific supervisor: Vita Maria Cristiana Moliterni, CREA
coordinator: Roberto Ranieri, Open Fields
keywords: Hemp; Canapa, low-input system, protein crop