The Reine Mathilde project, supported by the Danone Ecosystem Fund, Danone France, Les 2 Vaches and l’Institut de l’Elevage, is developing and strengthening the ecosystem around organic milk producers in Normandie in France, by training farmers, technical advisors, veterinaries on the most organic and sustainable agriculture practices. The project aims to experiment new types of cultures to support farmers autonomy and economic resilience to feed their cows while protecting soils, water resource, and biodiversity.
Why does it matter?
The French government has set a target of 20% organic milk production by 2020, but today a very low percentage of total milk production is organic (4% in 2018). The protection of soils fertility and biodiversity by reducing the tillage, while maintaining yield, is a growing challenge for organic agriculture.
How does it work?
Reine Mathilde project was one of the first projects supported by the Danone Ecosystem Fund. The project leverages its network of farmers, technical experts, and representatives of the agricultural sector, to support more farmers for their conversion to organic, and test new agricultural practices to tackle these challenges. The project includes trainings, sharing sessions with farmers (via collective sessions or demo farms), experimentations, and open source knowledge formalization to develop the expertise in organic milk production of farmers as well as veterinaries, teachers and students in agriculture.
After a successful phase 1 and 2, the phase 3 of the project focuses on regenerative agriculture, supporting farmers in their transition.
In 2018, Danone France launched the Danone Act striving for more sustainable agriculture practices in farms and more transparency. On September 21st, Danone France and its brands donated to the Danone Ecosystem Fund a full day's proceeds in favor of projects contributing to the transition to a regenerative agriculture. Following this day, Reine Mathilde is part of 5 projects selected by the Danone Ecosystem Fund to receive funding to support the regenerative agriculture in France, protecting soil health, farmers, and animal welfare.
How does this project create value?
The project promotes basic organic practices such as no uses of pesticides and will also deploy innovative organic regenerative agriculture practices by 2021, ensuring high-quality milk production, preserving the natural environment and soil quality.
“I’ve been a farmer since 1998. I have been involved in the “Reine Mathilde” program since the beginning. In 2010, the project team, including technical advisers, asked me to showcase my farm and conduct farming trials. I accepted without hesitation as I was convinced it would give me keys to improve the food autonomy of my farm. We hosted the first open day in 2011 and hundreds of visitors attended! It is good to know that I can rely on a large network of technicians and livestock consultants, so when I have a doubt I can call them. On the other hand, my phone rings much more often: I am questioned by other dairy farmers who need help and advice on technical issues.”
Carl Guilbert, organic farmer, Reine Mathilde, France
Photo credit: © Danone Ecosystem Fund/Philippe CAP