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United at the head of "Gelso-Net"

Circular agriculture project to relaunch mulberry cultivation in Piedmont

The University of Turin is the leader of the project “Gelso-Net - Mulberry agri-food chain: fruit - fodder - sericulture”, financed by the Piedmont region within the 2014-2020 rural development program with an amount of 625,000,000 Euros. By focusing on the sustainability and efficiency of the resources available in the region, Gelso-Net aims to revisit mulberry cultivation with an innovative approach with the aim of producing sorosi (fresh and processed mulberry fruits) for food purposes through new models cultivation, typical of intensive arboriculture; feed silkworms with fresh and processed leaves in order to support the relaunch of Piedmontese silkworm farming and a modern "regional silk supply chain" at zero km and produce rabbit feed based on mulberry leaf flour to obtain a functional food that allows the reduction of ration costs for farmers, the improvement of the nutraceutical characteristics of meat and responds to the growing needs of the consumer.

With a view to Circular Agriculture, Gelso-Net intends to relaunch the agro-industrial supply chain of fruit and leaf mulberry, in close connection with the zootechnical production chains of silkworm and rabbit farming. The project aims at a highly innovative review of the mulberry supply chain, which contributes to the integrated and sustainable development of the agri-food sector and enhances the countless ecosystem services of the mulberry according to socio-cultural criteria and economic convenience. The three-year project is developed by researchers from the Department of Agricultural, Forestry and Food Sciences (Disafa) and the Department of Veterinary Sciences (Dsv and sees the involvement of numerous Piedmontese companies: Agrimontana Spa, the Mellano Mauro farm, the Cunigranda farm of Perano Danilo, the Vallino Alessandro farm, the Villa Villacolle farm of Fea Manuela, La Maurina simple agricultural company, and the consulting firm AStudio, composed of a team of agricultural experts able to act by intermediaries between the farm and the public administration.

The United team, coordinated by Prof. Laura Gasco, professor of zooculture at Disafa, sees the close collaboration of researchers and professors belonging to Disafa and Dsv, including prof. Gabriele Beccaro, Dr. Manuela Renna, Dr. Gabriella Mellano, prof. To lberto Brugiapaglia, Dr. Ilaria Biasato and prof. Achille Schiavone. It is a multi-disciplinary team, with expertise in agronomy, animal nutrition, food and veterinary sciences, with proven experience in the sectors of mulberry, rabbit and insect breeding.

“The production of mulberry soros, which in the past represented a secondary product in Italy, is today the element on which an in-depth review of the entire supply chain in a modern key can be based”, says Professor Laura Gasco. “In the past, in Piedmont the mulberry was cultivated for the production of leaves which were essential food for the breeding of silkworms. Sericulture, inextricably linked to the cultivation of mulberry trees, has now almost disappeared on the regional territory, although it has contributed for a long time to providing well-being and sustenance for many families. The project makes it possible to bring to light a traditional production such as that of the silkworm, but revisited in an innovative key, enhancing a new production chain represented by sorosi, delicate and delicious fruits of the mulberry, and by a more sustainable and attentive to needs of consumers ".

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