Sufisa-Newsletter No 7 – Quarter 1/2019

In this final issue of the SUFISA Newsletter, we report about the final conference which took place on the 18th and 19th of March at Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Poland. In line with the approach of the project, we welcomed a diverse audience including the SUFISA researchers, national steering board members, policy makers, external experts and of course, farmers. The consortium also finalized a booklet, that bundles the key insights of the SUFISA project. The booklet is available for download at our website. (www.sufisa.eu) We also look back in this Newsletter on an event that proceeded the final conference. The consortium organized a European stakeholder meeting in Brussels, which took place on the 11th of December 2018. We invited high level experts to reflect with our consortium on the results of the project. End of April 2019, the SUFISA consortium will officially deliver its results to the European Commission. All deliverables of the project will be available for download on our website. (www.sufisa.eu)

Final Conference ‐
Welcome by the colleagues of Jagiellonian University

The KU Leuven team opened the final conference of SUFISA. Project manager Tessa Avermaete pointed to the fact that this event should not be considered as the end point of the SUFISA work, though rather as a milestone for long-term cooperation in the domain of sustainable finance in the agricultural and fishery sector with all the stakeholders at the national and the European level. Project coordinator Erik Mathijs provided an overview of the SUFISA process, from the initial call text of the European Commission up to the delivery of the booklet and the policy briefs. He pointed out five findings of the SUFISA project.

(1) All primary producers are now facing challenging market conditions

(2) Capacity to respond to these market conditions (‘room for maneuver’) strongly differs

(3) Market success increasingly depends on tighter vertical coordination

(4) Tension between cooperative and individual strategies rises

(5) Government needs to take up a new, facilitating role

Sarah Creemers and Steven Van Passel (UHasselt) opened the panel discussion on sustainability and future farming strategies. Mauro Vigani (CCRI), Egon Noe (USD), George Vlahos (AUA) and Sébastien Treyer (IDDRI) joined the panel discussion.

The SUFISA consortium invited a number of external experts for her final conference. The first guest speaker of the conference was Jan Falkowski. Prof. Falkowski works at the Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Warsaw and, based on his work with the Joint Research Centre (JRC), he presented on unfair trading practices in the food supply chain.

The first day closed with three reflections of researchers in the consortium. Eewoud Lievens (KUL), Svetlana Popovic (BEL) and Mikelis Grivins (BSC) shared their experience on working in the SUFISA consortium including the strong relations built with the stakeholders, the cross-institutional cooperation, the diversity of cases and lessons learnt for new initiatives in this domain.

On the second day, four parallel sessions took place which allowed a more in-depth dialogue on specific topics.  A first session dealt with ‘Supply chain arrangements: new perspectives from European agri-food economies’. For this session, we invited Matthew Gorton (Newcastle University and member of the SUFISA expert board) as well as Louise Manning (Royal Agricultural University). In parallel, Isabelle Bonjean (KUL) moderated a session on ‘Risk Management in European Agriculture: Evidence-based Policy and Behavioral Perspectives ‘. The invited guest for this session was Mariusz Legowski (DG AGRI). Mr Legowski presented the CAP Evaluation tool box and discussed the role of evidence based-policy from the perspective of DG AGRI.

Susanne von Münchhausen (HNEE) coordinated a very interactive ‘Fish bowl’ session on aquaculture. The following experts joined this session: Grażyna Bałys-Diprose and Kamil Olejczyk from the Dolina Karpia Association, a Local Action Group near Krakow, and Carl-Christian Schmidt, member of the SUFISA Advisory Board, who worked with the OECD Devision for Fisheries Policies. In a parallel session, SUFISA researchers presented their experience on the dairy sector, taking the strategies in a diverse and evolving landscape as point of departure.

In the afternoon, José Muñoz-Rojas (UoE) moderated a session on territorial differentiation, an issue that CAP doesn’t really address. However, SUFISA teams identified territorial conditions as key drivers for opportunities and threats in a number of cases. In parallel, a session on financial instruments, agricultural production and future expectations took place. The key questions for this session were as follows. Who are the main financial actors engaging with farmers? Are there new financial actors entering the agricultural landscape? What are the main dynamics in relations between financial actors and farmers? What kind of business, service, ownership and relationship models are emerging (if any)? To what extent do the national legislation and regulation support/hamper new kinds of investors and farming businesses?

The conference closed with a plenary session. Benedykt Olszewski gave a speech on behalf of Mr Siekierski (Member of the European Parliament and chair of COMAGRI). James Kirwan (HNEE) presented the experiences of the consortium on the cooperation with our stakeholders. One of the key strengths of SUFISA is the investment in trust within the consortium and with the external stakeholders, which composes the basis for future cooperation. The conference was closed with three reflections of SUFISA researchers: Daniele Vergamini (UNIPI), Isabelle Bonjean (KUL) and Adam Dabrowksi (JU).

SUFISA booklet

The SUFISA booklet was published in time for the final project conference in Krakow and was presented at this event by the project coordinator Prof. Dr. Erik Mathijs. The booklet summarizes the project work and results in a clear and illustrative manner. It starts out by introducing the ambition of the project and the investigated case studies, followed by an explanation of the theoretical framework. Further, the booklet shows identified conditions that farmers and fishers are faced with, their production strategies, existing private institutional arrangements and public intervention.

In each section, selected case study insights show practical examples of the studied topics. The text blocks are further livened up by graphical illustrations and flanked by supporting  quotes by stakeholders such as the very encouraging statement by Felix Mittermayer from the European Parliament Support Services, who acknowledged that “Research such as SUFISA is crucial for developing the Common Agricultural Policy.” The booklet may be downloaded for free on the SUFISA webpage. (www.sufisa.eu)

The stakeholder workshop in Brussels

The SUFISA European stakeholder meeting in Brussels, Belgium, took place on the 11th of December 2018. There were fruitful discussions with the following external experts who have attended the workshop:

Koen Carels and Guy Lambrecht  from the Flemish Government, the independent expert Carl Christian Schmidt, Nicolas de la Vega  from IFOAM, Eve Fouilleux from CIRAD, Jozefina Król from the Agricultural Advisory Centre in Poland, Marcelo Lima from the European Commission, Felix Mittermayer from the European Parliament, Oliveira Joâo (Montado land owner), Valerie Vercammen from the food supplements association Naredi, Jonas Lazaro Mojica from Food Drink Europe.

Several stakeholders as well as SUFISA team members have been interviewed during the workshop. The videos with the interviews can be viewed on the SUFISA webpage. (www.sufisa.eu)

Project coordination
University of Leuven, Division of Bioeconomics

Project coordinator: Prof Erik Mathijs
Project management: Tessa Avermaete (tessa.avermaete@kuleuven.be)

Pictures of the SUFISA conference by Kamila Zarębska-Szatan.