agroBridges from the inside: discover the team.

Name and Surname: Carlos Farnandez and Maria Caballero
Position: Communication officer and Policy advisor
Where are we located? Brussels (Belgium)

agroBRIDGES Communication Team (ACT): Hello Carlos and Maria, thank you for answering our questions. First of all, what FruitVegetablesEUROPE (Eucofel) does?

Carlos Fernandez (CF): EUCOFEL is the European private Association representing the European Fruit and Vegetables (F&V) producers and exporters at the EU level. We were founded more than 60 years ago, and we are based in Brussels.

Maria Caballero (MC): Our goal is to give a voice to European F&V producers among EU institutions, striving to create a level playing field and ensuring fairer conditions for EU producers and exporters.

CF: Our members are national and regional Federations and Associations (mainly Producers Organisations and Associations of Producer Organisations) and companies from the main European producing countries (France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain). We account for more than 4,500 companies in Europe!

ACT: And what is your role at FruitVegetablesEUROPE (Eucofel)? And how it links with agroBRIDGES project?

CF: I am the communications officer of the Association. I work mostly as responsible for strategic communications planning, evaluation, and maintenance of some parts of the FruitVegetablesEUROPE’s communication and various projects. I am one of those guys who write a few posts, contacts a lot of participants. You will see me on social media… but without reaching the level of a community manager.

MC: I’ve been working in FruitVegetablesEUROPE as a policy advisor for the last two years. I am in charge of monitoring and analysing EU agricultural, environmental and trade policies for the F&V sector. Besides, together with Carlos, we manage innovation projects such as agroBRIDGES.

CF: Regarding agroBRIDGES, we are responsable for the proper communication and dissemination of the project. We have created the website as well as its content and all the communication materials. Besides, we manage our Twitter and Linkedin accounts.

MC: Moreover, we offer our expertise at the EU level to disseminate the project results among European stakeholders.

ACT: Most people do not know how an association team works in Brussels and how a communication department works. How do you work on a day-to-day basis in your team?

CF: It is all great and dynamic. I am more than happy to reveal this secret. Our department, being a small team, works very closely with each other. My aspect is more related to communication, but I work side by side with Maria and Juan Luis, who has a working aspect closer to that of a policy advisor. This has a very positive aspect, and that is that when it comes to communicating what is done and how it is done, I have the aspects that I want to communicate in a very close way.

As far as the communication work at EUCOFEL is concerned, I consider it to be an incredibly creative job. We start with almost a blank page, analyse our environment, our target group, what the people we are addressing, who we work with, where we want to communicate from… and write the necessary strategy lines so that we can create something that means something to others – like a painter would do on a blank canvas. Simply that, in my case, the easel is my computer.

ACT: This seems like a lot of work… What is your biggest challenge?

MC: Indeed, it can be difficult. Before developing anything, we need to fully understand the requirements of the tool we have to use, which are based entirely on the needs of the consumers/partners/projects. You need good skills to focus on the most essential elements that add value to the EUCOFEL programme.

I often compare the development of a communication strategy to riddles. You need to know what they are asking for without being able to explicitly ask, while at the same time you cannot fall into the trap of thinking that your needs are the other person’s needs. It is also key to know how you can help meet their needs and be helpful.

I like to wake up every day knowing that I will never be bored.
And you know what the best thing is? The puzzle changes daily! Of course, it can be challenging, but I like to wake up every day knowing that I will never get bored, do you?

ACT: Finally, what would you say are the three best aspects of working at EUCOFEL?

CF: As Maria said, the work is a continuous challenge, no day is like the previous one. Our job is very creative because we have to think about adapting the project concept to the target audience and doing it appealingly. Besides, we contribute to fostering the role of Short Food Supply Chains (SFSC) and influencing EU agricultural policies to rebalance the farmers’ position in the supply chain.

MC: From my side, I love the fact that we work with people from different European countries. I am learning a lot about the status of SFSC all over Europe. It’s a great way of identifying best practices and being able to share them with our F&V producers.

Do you want to know more about our team? Meet Maria, Juan Luis and Alba and discover their role in EUCOFEL!

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