Walloon Agricultural Research Centre - CRA-W
" Founded in 1872, the Walloon Agricultural Research Centre (CRA W) is a scientific establishment under the Regional Government of Wallonia. CRA W employs over 450 people, among them 120 scientists including doctors of agricultural science, engineers or graduates. Spread over three sites (Gembloux, Libramont and Mussy-la-Ville), the Centre occupies some 300 hectares of offices, laboratories, greenhouses, orchards and experimental fields ".
Regionalised on 1 October 2002, the Walloon Agricultural Research Centre, now a public-interest organisation, is the only public agricultural research centre run by the Region (Regional Government of Wallonia decree dated 3 July 2003 - Moniteur Belge 18.07.2003 -read the text (.PDF) ).
CRA-W: Visions and Values
A public institution like CRA-W must maintain and develop the scientific excellence and societal usefulness that legitimize it as a special contributor to the sustainable development of the agricultural industry in Wallonia in its economic, ecological and cultural dimension.
CRA-W's scientific excellence, social usefulness, efficient organisation and good human relations will provide a strong framework for cohesion and converge towards universally enhancing global dynamics.
CRA-W's strategic and operating objectives
In setting its objectives the CRA-W has to take into account:
- The development of science and technology
- Society's expectations, including:
- increased consumer demand for product diversity, quality and safety
- environmental issues and their structural links with agronomic matters
- greater recourse to scientific information and expertise
- Integration into the European Research Area (ERA)
- The need to preserve the essential knowledge and skills for monitoring activities
- The requirement of independence with respect to the various players involved
When defining its research objectives the CRA-W therefore has to integrate the scientific, social and European context described above. It also has to perform its tasks in accordance with the Decree of 3 July 2003 and under that heading has to carry out fundamental and applied research and service activities. Like other European research organisations (INRA, France), the CRA W scientists, heads of department and management have given concerted thought to future lines of research and the resulting operating objectives.
The following lines of research have been identified:
- Improving the living environment, environmental protection and sustainable production
The CRA-W is committed to the objective of a sustainable production systems policy integrating environmental protection and conservation of natural resources.
- Improving human food, protecting consumer health and taking account of food behaviour analyses
The CRA-W's objective is to place regional agriculture firmly in the context of society's expectations, specifically in terms of product safety, quality and functionality.
- Diversifying products and their uses, making them more competitive and making producers and enterprises more competitive
The CRA-W wants to make Walloon regional products more competitive by introducing differentiated quality products, developing non-food applications (biomass, biofuels, etc.) and encouraging the emergence of new plant and animal sectors.
- Adapting species, practices and production systems to changing contexts
Adapting our production systems to changing political, economic, environmental and social contexts requires an integrated approach drawing on various skills (genetic, agronomic, animal production, veterinary, technical, sociological, economic, etc.) That implies multidisciplinary projects and, consequently, various cooperative links and partnerships.
- Providing decision support for public and private-sector players
Due to its capacity for innovation and anticipation, the CRA W performs a technology monitoring, forecasting and expert opinion function which is available to the Regional Government. Another of its duties is to provide information and material for public debate (ethics of production methods, animal welfare, GMOs and so forth).