The overall objectives of FrontAg Nexus (Impact of Climate-Smart and Water-Saving Frontier Agriculture on the WEFE Nexus in Arid Mediterranean Regions) are to demonstrate the socio-economic and ecological impacts of the water, energy, food, and ecosystem (WEFE) Nexus approach at the agricultural production and policy levels in the Mediterranean Regions. The project will show that frontier agriculture contributes to improve livelihoods, including food and nutrition security (FNS), job creation, entrepreneurship, skill enhancement, and will reduce the pressure on WEFE resources. Frontier agriculture comprises climate-smart and water-saving technologies, such as hydroponics (i.e., different soilless or semi-soilless plant cultivation systems, often vertical), aquaponics (i.e., the combination of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) with hydroponics), insect farming and vermiculture/vermicomposting (for animal feed and/or substrate/humus). Energy efficiency of frontier agriculture can be enhanced through agriphotovoltaic. These innovations and the corresponding supply and value chains are at the centre of FrontAg Nexus. Frontier agriculture is equally suitable for rural and urban contexts and could be exercised by both experienced and novice farmers. Frontier agricultural technologies can be combined in a modular fashion to simultaneously address multiple challenges related to the WEFE Nexus. This is known as ‘multisolving’ approach. The multisolving approach has great relevance in this era of complex, interlinked, social, and environmental challenges as reflected by the thrive for a sustainable WEFE Nexus. Cross-sectoral (Nexus) policy level stakeholder engagement will be undertaken, avoiding siloed thinking, to promote a consensual and coherent WEFE policy framework.

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Period of Implementation

May 1, 2023 - Apr 30, 2026
Total Budget

EUR 3,012,345.00



FrontAg Nexus will assess the socio-economic impacts of the Nexus approach inherent to frontier agriculture in the Mediterranean Region. Thus, FrontAg Nexus will undertake multi-contextual socio-innovative adaptation experiments related to the frontier agricultural supply and value chains and policy governance structures in Israel, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey. The innovation actions of FrontAg Nexus provide a novel concept and approach for improving the adaptation capacity of the farming system to climate change and the livelihoods of the stakeholders in the Mediterranean Region. FrontAg Nexus will show that frontier agriculture • contributes to sustainable and circular agro-food systems in the Mediterranean region. • reduces rural-urban migration pressure, because migration pressure is linked to local resource scarcity. • is suitable for different contexts, e.g. for rural and urban communities, refugee camps or Bedouin settlements. • can spur job creation for women and young adults. • is a prime example of the multisolving approach, in other words multiple challenges can be addressed with a single investment of time and money.


FrontAg Nexus aims to achieve a number of specific objectives (SOs): SO#1: Identification of prototypes and proof of concepts (if applicable) for hydroponics, aquaponics, insect farming, and vermiculture/vermicomposting that are climate-smart and minimize the pressure on water, land, energy, and biodiversity. The contribution of FrontAg Nexus to SO#1 is to: • Conceptualize the WEFE Nexus for hydroponics, aquaponics, insect farming, and vermiculture/vermicomposting. • Identify demonstration cases as socio-innovative adaptation instruments. • Compare productivity and natural resource efficiency of frontier agriculture to conventional farming. SO#2: Describe the Nexus outcomes and business opportunities related to hydroponics, aquaponics, insect farming, and vermiculture/vermicomposting in the respective supply and value chains. The contribution of FrontAg Nexus to SO#2 is to: • Identify the stakeholders in production and the respective supply and value chains. • Model the regional supply and value chains and business opportunities for livelihood security. • Showcase positive demonstration cases, establish a communities-supporting-communities collaboration. • Establish frontier agricultural innovations as part of the multisolving approach. SO#3: Assess socio-economic impacts of the Nexus approach emerging from frontier agriculture on the governance of WEFE resources. The contribution of FrontAg Nexus to SO#3 is to: • Illustrate how the Nexus approach in frontier agriculture affects the governance of WEFE resources and the socio-economic situation of producers and stakeholders along the supply and value chains. • Review cross-sectoral policies related to WEFE resource capacity as well as frontier agriculture. • Contribute to the PRIMA ecosystem by sharing cross-sectoral policy governance models.

Problems and Needs Analysis

Adopting a WEFE Nexus thinking that addresses the multi-sectoral Nexus interlinkages, including land and biodiversity is crucial to increase efficiency, to reduce trade-offs, and to build synergies while improving governance of the Nexus. The Mediterranean Region is one of the global hotspots of climate change, which significantly affects water availability and climate-sensitive agricultural systems. Thus, boosting climate change adaptation and mitigation through innovation actions (IA) that reduce the pressure on the Nexus including biodiversity is paramount. Climate change introduces additional challenges to the Nexus, as the competition for scarce resources intensifies and linear agricultural systems heighten the strained cross-sectoral Nexus relationships. Sustainable and circular agro-food systems are key towards delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2030. Frontier agriculture comprises climate-smart and water-saving agricultural technologies and practices on the basis of renewable energy (e.g., agriphotovoltaic). Thus, frontier agriculture can sustainably expand the frontiers of current agri-food production in the Mediterranean Region. Although many farmers in the region have implemented drip irrigation and other water-saving technologies (like treated wastewater irrigation) or have adopted agriphotovoltaic, more is needed to improve water, energy, and land use efficiency. Frontier agricultural innovations can leverage scarce resources, because they require limited arable land, water, energy, wealth, and reduce waste. Furthermore, they improve the sustainability of livelihoods by raising FNS, creating jobs, promoting entrepreneurship, enhancing skills, and building social cohesion.

Intervention Strategy(ies)

FrontAg Nexus will follow a WEFE Nexus thinking and delineate socio-innovative adaptation experiments (i.e., demonstration cases) based on the frontier agricultural innovations in five Mediterranean countries (Italy, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey) as well as one of the world’s driest countries, Jordan. FrontAg Nexus strongly adheres to a bottom-up multi-actor approach as everyone matters and everyone is needed. In line with the multi-actor approach, existing hydroponics, aquaponics, insect farming, and vermiculture/vermicomposting systems will be identified to establish demonstration cases in different contexts. FrontAg Nexus includes capacity-development activities for technological, business, and WEFE resource management. practical information on FrontAg Nexus innovations will be made available as practice abstracts on the agricultural European Innovation partnership (EIP-AGRI) website within the community of practice. The multisolving approach complements the aforementioned multi-actor principle.

Impact Pathway

FrontAg Nexus will not develop new technologies but promote novel frontier agricultural systems (i.e., hydroponics, aquaponics, insect farming, and vermiculture/vermicomposting) in the Mediterranean Region. When and where a particular technology is not established, demonstration pilots with local innovation actors will be co-created. The current technology readiness levels (TRLs) for different small- and medium-scale hydroponics, aquaponics, insect farming, and vermiculture/vermicomposting are below or at TRL 3-5. FrontAg Nexus will offer capacity building in line with the developed practice abstracts to adapt and tailor its innovations in reaching TRL 4-7. The anticipated outcome of FrontAg Nexus is scaling up the adoption of frontier agriculture as a multi-solving intervention in different contexts, ultimately generating sustainable co-benefits for the WEFE Nexus and the livelihoods of the stakeholders.