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ICSuro, to the two Spanish Innovative Operational Groups in the cork sector

The Institut Català del Suro is part of the two Spanish Innovative Operational Groups in the cork sector: GO SUBER and GO BIOCORK. GO SUBER focuses on the modernization of cork extraction and BIOCORK, in solving the cork problem.

GO SUBER presents an innovative project to modernize cork extraction

The extraction of cork is a job that continues to be carried out as it was more than two hundred years ago, with the almost exclusive help of the ax and crowbar. The absence of mechanization and specialized labor prevent an effective and safe development of the work, along with an intrinsic need to rejuvenate the sector.

These are the fundamental pillars of the proposal GO UP, a national operational group that has just been selected by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment (MAPAMA) to carry out the global modernization of the cork extraction sector, including its mechanization, improvement of safety conditions at work, optimization of organization and logistics and marketing.

The MAPAMA made public at the beginning of August the resolution of the call for aid to National Operational Groups; of the 311 applications submitted, 45 have been approved, including GO SUBER.
GO SUBER groups a six representative entities of the sector in several Spanish areas with the presence of masses of cork trees and a strong cork tradition: the Association of Owners of Cork Hills of Extremadura (APMAE), the Consorci Forestal de Catalunya (CFC), the Confederation of Forestry Organizations of Spain ( CUS), TREVINCA engineering, the COVELESS company and the Association of Ecological Resources (ADEHECO).

As subcontractors providing academic, technical, technological and scientific support are the Institut Català del Suro (ICSURO), the FOREST RESEARCH CENTER (CIFOR – INIA), the Environment and Water Agency of Andalusia (AMAYA), the Center for Scientific and Technological Research of Extremadura (CICYTEX) , the University of Córdoba (UCO), the Higher Technical School of Forestry, Forestry and Natural Environment Engineers, and the company JOGOSA Obres i Serveis SLO

The needs of the sector

Peeling is one of the fundamental operations of subericulture and today it is facing several serious problems: it is increasingly scarce specialized workforcein addition, it does not have a regulated training, nor the necessary economic incentives to avoid its decrease and eventual disappearance. More, considering that it is a hard and dangerous work (you have to climb the tree armed with a very sharp ax and it is done in the middle of summer, in very hot areas).
However, in recent years, cork exploitation has experienced a revolution in the techniques and methods of exploitation that, although they have not been transferred definitively to the owners, managers and/or companies in the sector, they have incorporated new solutions that, in the not too distant future, will be key tools of exploitation. Especially given the structural situation of the sector: an aging workforce, serious deficiencies in the safety and health of workers and the poor health status of our oak trees.

The objectives of the Operational Group

To try to solve these needs and shortcomings, the Group has proposed the following objectives:
• Modernization of the cork extraction works by means of their mechanization
• Improvement of the working conditions
• Adaptation and optimization of systems i organizational procedures of the extraction
• Impulse of the commercialization and assessment of cork (standardization of plates and by-products)

Intense activity

The group has met three times to date and is in full development of the future innovative project, with the intention of having it available at the end of this year 2017. For this it has a budget of 44,453 €63, financed by the EAFRD (53%) and the MAPAMA (47%)With the intention of looking for possible synergies, he has participated in meetings with the other Operational Group of the cork sector, BIOCORK, aimed at solving the cork problem.
He was also present at the Conferences that took place in Almoraima on October 9 and 10, with the aim of promoting a table in the cork sector, or an interprofessional organization.
With the Innovative Project drawn up, it will move to the implementation phase, for which a budget of approximately €800,000 will be allocated.

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* The Operational Groups are key elements in the development of the European Association for Innovation in the field of productive and sustainable agriculture. They are groups of actors such as farmers, ranchers, foresters, agri-food or forestry industries, public or private R+D+io training and advisory centers, technological centers or non-profit institutions, among others, that come together to achieve an innovation in order to solve a problem or take advantage of an opportunity, with a joint and multi-sector action approach.

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