The MED-GOLD project presented a beta version of the tool designed for the olive/olive oil sector during a focus group meeting held on the 9th May at the central offices of the Spanish cooperative DCOOP SCA in Antequera, Málaga. The project area of study for olive/olive oil is Andalusia, the main olive oil producing region in the world.

The focus group meeting consisted of three technical sessions and a last session on conclusions, in which the participants discussed the proposed tools. The event was attended by 4 participants from DCOOP, representing the whole value chain of the olive sector in the main olive producing areas of Andalusia (Spain), and by several scientific and technical experts from the MED-GOLD team. This event was a continuation of a previous MED-GOLD olive/olive oil workshop held in June 2018, which was also held at the same DCOOP venue.

Climate services for supporting decisions in the olive sector

The needs of the agricultural sector are the key to MED-GOLD. Therefore, the aim of the focus group meeting was to gather the impressions from potential users and collect their feedback on the MED-GOLD climate service tools developed for the olive sector.

During the first session, a climate service tool based on the integration of seasonal predictions into Artificial Intelligence models was presented. Participants discussed the applicability of this kind of service and how it could assist farmers in their decision-making. During the second session, participants revised an initial set of long-term climate indicators and their visualization strategies. The third session was devoted to provide feedback on a tool regarding recommendations for pest management. At the end, the main conclusions arising from each session were gathered to inform further development of the sectorial tools.

A take-home message from the focus group meeting was that users from the olive sector targeted by MED-GOLD (mainly agronomists) are more interested in climate information for the next weeks and months (sub-seasonal to seasonal time scales) for the main olive producing areas in Andalusia. However, different interests would probably have been identified if other users in the agriculture sector (e.g. farmers, policy-makers, etc.) had been present.

The focus group provided useful feedback to improve the design of the tool from the end-users’ point of view. Hereafter, MED-GOLD will be able to develop new versions of the tools to meet the needs of the olive sector. Once the new versions are ready, the project aims to validate the tool via further interactions with the users.