Agricultural residues management is considered to be a vital approach in order to accomplish resource conservation and to maintain the quality of the environment. Citrus is one of the most widely cultivated fruit crops and one of the main agro-food products in the Mediterranean area. Citrus peels, if treated as waste materials, can create environmental problems. This problem could be turned into an advantage, if potentially marketable by-products can be extracted and valorized in several added-value ingredients (e.g. pectin). Citrus pectin is an essentially linear polysaccharide, it is both polydisperse and polymolecular and its composition varies with the source and the conditions applied during isolation. One of the most important targets of the project to achieve the sustainability is the use of the hydrogels which prepared from citrus by produts as soil improver to increase the water-holding capacity and/or nutrient retention of sandy soils. EU citrus fruits production is concentrated in the Mediterranean region. Spain represents nearly 60% of the EU28 total production and Italy about 30%; the remaining 10% is distributed among other Member States. The European citrus sector is strongly oriented towards the fresh product market. Egypt is a leading world orange producer and exporter, ranking as the sixth largest producer and most likely the top orange exporter in the world.
MEDISMART aims to develop a new range of citrus derivatives (for example citrus pulp with juice) both for the fresh (i.e. fresh cut with covering juice having high service content packaging under protective atmosphere), and for the canned markets, but processed using soft innovative technologies (HPP, up to 10000 Dalton, and US) able to maintain unchanged the nutritional and sensory performances. Products will be developed, using pilot and semi-industrial plants, based on the indications that the sensory and consumer tests will provide. The extraction of bioactive and functional biomolecules from industrial processing wastes will allow obtaining a new range of natural ingredients with healthy properties and antioxidant activity not directly synthesized by the human body and using superabsorbent hydrogels in agriculture which have been successfully used as soil improvers to increase the water-holding capacity and/or nutrient retention of sandy soils. Essential oils and polyphenolic extracts can also be used as preservatives in food or packaging and as natural pesticides.
- Use of eco-friendly substances as an alternative to any chemicals in agricultural practices;
- Extraction and purification of some valuable compounds which can be used in agriculture, pharmaceutical, nutraceuticals, food and cosmetic industries
- Identification of innovative packaging materials
- Application of a hydrogel as soil improvers to increase the water-holding capacity and/or nutrient retention of sandy soils
- Identification of innovative process technologies strongly preserving the naturalness and properties of the products raising final quality in terms of nutrition and sensory aspects: HPP, US.
- These new products will create a new market, characterized by a different perception of the product and they exert leverage for the whole sector of fresh and processed fruit.
- Using pilot scale and semi-industrial plants, the effectiveness of innovative industrial processes, able to extend the range of traditional Mediterranean food products
- To create in mediterranean countries affordable and innovative strategies towards waste and byproduct reuse.
- Disseminate the concept "citrus wastes may be seen no longer as a polluting agro-industrial residues but as a valuable natural raw material and adding value".
- To promote the use of healthy “clean label” with natural ingredients in agro-food industry
- To promote the use of healthy “clean label” ingredients in agro-food industry.
- To transfer project know-how to farms and industry operators, in order to enable operators to apply the proposed processes and technologies at industrial scale.
- To produce green pesticides, hydrogel NPK fertilizers and green fertilizers which will reduce the agriculture pollutants and improve the environment.
- Establishment MEDISMART Foundation, will safeguard the MEDISMART project's results beyond the funding period.
MEDISMART and SDGs
The project is consonant with the Sustainable Development Goals which have been determined by the United Nations in 2030 strategy. Where our project works on sveral SDGs where it agree with SDGs namely, 1) end extreme poverty in all forms, 2) end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, 3) ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, 8) promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all, 9) build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.