The Upscale project

The Upscale project

A spin-off from the AAutonom project, the Upscale project aims to meet the challenges of responsible innovation combining agro-ecology and automation in the field of agro-ecological market gardening.

Urban agriculture is a way of bringing vegetable production closer to the people. It takes many different forms, and can be both commercial and non-commercial. However, vegetable production is characterized by high labor costs and hard work, which reduces its attractiveness or leads to abandonment. The challenge is therefore to facilitate the sustainable production and marketing, in urban agriculture, of quality market garden produce accessible to all.

#DigitAg © Christophe Maitre

One answer may lie in automating a number of tasks  (see the AAUTONOM project ), optimizing processes, production or marketing, etc....
A number of French AgTech start-ups are proposing devices and tools to facilitate urban vegetable production. Some even go beyond technology alone, proposing models for urban market garden farms that integrate a number of technical, organizational (processes, players), economic (investments, profitability indicators) and structural (minimum land area, land distribution ratios by type or mode of production, etc.) features.

However, these new concepts raise questions: they may require a high initial investment, due to the type of production and tools used, which may favour certain - capital-intensive - forms of production, which run counter to the agro-ecological principles of producer autonomy (cf. FAO). The Upscale project aims to question the desirable models for market-garden production that are as close as possible to the local population, and that are high-quality, sustainable and accessible to all, including their modes of governance.

The Upscale project focuses on 2 major research questions:

  • Could these new concepts contribute to developing a local supply of quality vegetables at affordable prices to meet the needs of a metropolitan area (i.e. the Montpellier metropolis) and thus address the issue of scaling up?
  • Under what technological, economic and governance conditions would these concepts meet the 10 FAO principles of agroecology?

The main challenge will be to identify the technological, economic, social and political conditions required for responsible innovations combining agro-ecology and automation in agro-ecological market gardening.

Modification date: 08 February 2024 | Publication date: 16 January 2024 | By: GL