Structural change in the Rhineland area with research as a driving force

For the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia a successful structural change of the Rhineland mining area after the phase-out of lignite-based electricity is a central task. “The regional agricultural and food industry can and will play an active role here as an important driving force. Bread instead of lignite – through the production of food, but also as a supplier of renewable raw materials, a modern agricultural policy in the region will actively shape the upcoming process of change”, said Environment and Agriculture Minister Ursula Heinen-Esser in Jülich. Together with Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Zukunftsagentur Rheinisches Revier, the Ministry of the Environment had invited to the event “Neues Rheinisches Revier – Strukturwandel mit modernen Land- und Ernährungswirtschaft”.

During the event, a new regional sector network was established to accompany and coordinate joint activities in the Rhenish mining district and to serve as a forum for exchange. The Platform for Food, Agriculture, Innovation and Sustainability (PLAIN) is to formulate the various interests and needs and to define and then implement common overarching themes and objectives. “I see good chances that this new platform will become an important shaper of the Rhenish mining district towards a sustainable model region – with many new, qualified jobs in industry, trade and commerce. The already existing very good university and research landscape, the well-developed industry and service scene, good soil and, last but not least, a well-educated population speak for this”, said Minister Heinen-Esser.

The decisive key to a successful transformation is innovation. The cluster of excellence PhenoRob is part of this new network working on technology driven solutions for sustainable agriculture. Therefore, PhenoRob’s spokesperson Professor Heiner Kuhlmann took part in a panel discussion as one of the involved science institutions. Furthermore, the cluster presented its ideas at an accompanying exhibition.