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Sufisa-Newsletter No 6 – Quarter 3/2018

Up-coming events:

The European stakeholder meeting will take place on Tuesday 11th of December 2018 at the Thon hotel in Brussels, Belgium

We invite experts from EU level organisations – including COPA-COGECA, Greenpeace, IFOAM, Fooddrinkeurope and Euromontana – as well as sector experts and national stakeholders.

The Final Conference will take place on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th of March 2019 at Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

We welcome the diversity of stakeholders represented in the SUFISA project: researchers, steering board members and farmers to reflect on the outcomes of the project.

We present nine SUFISA papers :

  • The first six papers are conference papers of the 13th European IFSA Symposium – Farming systems: facing uncertainties and enhancing opportunities, which took place from 1st to 5th of July 2018 at the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania on Crete.
  • The paper “Market Power Extended: From Foucault to Meadows” (Biely, K.; Maes, D.; Van Passel, S.) was published this year in: Sustainability 2018, 10, 2843.
  • The paper about “The Importance of Bank Credits for Agricultural Financing in Serbia” (Popović S. , Janković I., Stojanović Ž.) was published this year in: Economics of Agriculture. The Balkan Scientific Association of Agrarian Economists.  65-80 (EP 2018 (65) 1 (65-80). doi:10.5937/ekoPolj1801065P.
  • The paper “How to add value to the fish” (Searls, K., Münchhausen, S. v., Kirwan, J., Chiswell, H., Maye, D., Prosperi, P., Vergamini, D., Minarelli, F., Tsakalou, E.) is a conference paper of the 7th AIEAA Conference of the Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA), which took place on 14th and 15th of June 2018 in Conegliano, Italy.

Vertical integration as future strategy to increase value absorption of primary producers: the Belgian sugar beet and the German rapeseed case

Biely, K., Münchhausen, S. v., Van Passel, S. (2018)

The authors identify and analyse the role of the supply chain integration under changing policy and market conditions. Two case studies serve as the basis for the analysis; sugar beet in Flanders/Belgium and oilseed rape in Hessen/Germany. While for sugar beet, the effects of market power are emerging only now with the termination of the quota system, farmers growing oilseed rape have been experiencing these problems since the 1990s. The analysis concludes that most strategies to maintain or improve farm income are exhausted. Nevertheless, a combination of horizontal cooperation and vertical integration may be a potent option in the future. (Link to download full paper)

Cooperatives adapting to market conditions: insights from a comparative study of apple and pear farming in Poland, Italy and Belgium

Lievens, E., Bonjean, I., Dabrowski, A., Minarelli, F., Gorlach, K., Raggi, M., Nowak, P., Viaggi, D., Mathijs, E. (2018)

By means of three case studies, conducted in Poland, Italy and Belgium, the authors assess how market conditions have forced apple and pear farmers to target their production towards specific markets, and how marketing cooperatives have adjusted the functions they perform accordingly. They show how the range of functions currently performed by cooperatives is likely to influence farmers’ strategies for the future. In addition, some lessons learnt from the pronounced scale enlargement of the Belgian marketing cooperatives in the last two decades are discussed, and their relevance for the Polish and Italian sectors which seek to upscale their marketing cooperatives. (Link to download full paper)

Farmer strategies to manage market uncertainty: commodity-level analysis and critique

Maye, D., Kirwan, J., Chiswell, H., Vigani, M., Muñoz-Rojas, J., Mathijs, E., Bonjean, I., Hvarregaard Thorsøe, M., Noe, E., Münchausen, S. v., Grivins, M., Aubert, P., Nowak, P., Minarelli, F. (2018)

This paper draws on case study data from three commodities (dairy, arable and fruits) in different European regions to examine and compare strategies emerging to manage uncertainty and other business risks. The analysis adopts a farmer perspective and shows how forms of contractualisation, collective action, the use of market data, futures and other risk management schemes are perceived and in some cases actions at the food chain level. The paper problematises what is meant by ‘strategy’, especially at a farm level, given the multi-level nature of institutional arrangements, which includes complex arrangements between banks and supply chain actors. Understanding strategies as dynamic socio-material properties is therefore essential. (Link to download full paper)

The role of territorial conditions in influencing the sustainability of farming systems and strategies across Europe: a comparative analysis

Muñoz-Rojas, J., Bartolini, F., Maye, D., Münchausen, S. v., Noe, E., Pinto-Correia, T., H. Thorsoe, M., Vergamini, D. (2018)

The authors address six regional case studies comprising various agricultural commodities. For each of these, they evaluate the influence of place, space and landscape in driving the sustainability of different farming systems and strategies. To bring up the territorial and governance dimensions of sustainability, the authors also considered communities and institutions. They co-constructed case study data and information in close collaboration with multiple stakeholders, using a mixed range of quantitative and qualitative methods of social enquiry. The findings indicate how the territorial conditions that are contingent to European regions and localities directly impact on the sustainability of farming strategies and systems, with space, place and landscape each playing a key role this process, although further theoretical reflections and empirical case studies are still required. (Link to download full paper)

How the interplay between social capital creation and adaptive arrangements can impact the resilience of small-scale fisheries in different European contexts

Prosperi, P., Kirwan, J., Tsakalou, E., Vlahos, G., Maye, D., Bartolini, F., Vergamini, D., Brunori, G. (2018)

The authors argue that new and diversified institutional arrangements combined with social capital building can help reach long-term economic sustainability for small-scale fisheries businesses, as well as the social-ecological resilience of coastal areas. In order to understand and analyse the multiplicity of strategies applied by small-scale fishers – including expansion towards non–productivist activities – this paper studies the role of new institutional and collective arrangements based on small-scale, traditional, quality orientated, multifunctional as well as non-fishing activities. Using a case study approach, the authors have analysed – in three different geographical contexts of Europe (UK, Greece and Italy) – how the interplay between the creation of social capital and building adaptive arrangements in selected small-scale fisheries provides relevant prerequisites for resilience. (Link to download full paper)

Food chain structure, price and risk management strategies – insights from the Serbian raspberry case study

Stojanović, Z., Dragutinovic-Mitrovic, R., Jankovic, I., Ristic, B. (2018)

The findings of the paper indicate a different dispersion of the value created due to significant differences in the market power of the value chain participants. Being powerless, it is hardly expected from raspberry producer to be “an equal” partner at the market. Finally, analysis shows that the price-linked public policies influence farmers’ risk exposure and improve farms income particularly in the fruit sector in Serbia. However, these policies also affect farmers’ risk management behaviour. The normal risk behaviour assumes that farmers are responsible for managing their own business. They can fully express their economic, social and environmental behaviour if they are supported by measures that facilitate more informed business choices. (Link to download full paper)

Market Power Extended: From Foucault to Meadows

Biely, K., Maes, D., Van Passel, S. (2018)

This paper extends the definition of market power, following Foucault’s understanding of power and the associated theoretical discussions of power from different disciplines. It extends Foucault’s work by including systems thinking to capture the importance of the prevalent system’s paradigm, which is the ultimate initiator of action. Apart from distinguishing different elements of power, the authors also integrate an instrumental view on the elements of power. The developed frame allows us to understand the dynamic character of power as a force that strives to maintain or ameliorate the position of the paradigm that it serves. Based on this frame, the authors outline how this extended understanding of power can be used to analyze market power itself, and its relation with sustainability. (Link to download full paper)

The Importance of Bank Credits for Agricultural Financing in Serbia

Stojanović, z., Popović, S., Janković, I. (2018)

Agricultural loans present unutilized bank credit market segment in Serbia. This is not only missed profit opportunity for banks, but also serious deficiency that slows down the development of agriculture and rural areas. The paper uses FADN, NBS and bank balance sheet data in order to analyse supply and demand side of this credit market segment, with the aim to better understand the conditions for its development. The paper recommends better education of producers and lenders. Banks should better understand the requirements of agricultural producers and risks of the production to be able to create tailored credits. Insurance has very important role in specific risk hedging and can facilitate agricultural loans. There is also a need to adjust the conditions for obtaining subsidized loans, while the land size is considered as a key prerequisite for obtaining loans in the situation of large fragmentation of properties. (Link to download full paper (4th paper, pp. 65-79))

How to add value to the fish

Searles, K., Münchhausen, S. v., Kirwan, J., Chiswell, H., Maye, D., Prosperi, P., Vergamini, D., Minarelli, F., Tsakalou, E. (2018)

With this paper, the authors aim to identify and discuss fish farmers’ and fishermen’s strategies ensuring the viability of their businesses by adding value to their fish utilizing this so far often unused market potential. Four case studies serve as the basis for the analysis. The German case studies examined traditional carp pond farming in Franconia and recirculation aquaculture systems in northern Germany. The Italian case studies focus on saline aquaculture (marine and on-shore) in Tuscany and mussel farming (inshore) in the Emilia-Romagna region. The English, Italian and Greek study cases analysed the situation of small-scale coastal fisheries in Cornwall, Tuscany and the Kavala region. (Link to download full paper)


Marie-Hélène Schwoob, IDDRI (Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations), France

Marie-Helene Schwoob is an agronomist and political scientist, whose main research areas focus on the transformation of agricultural systems towards more sustainabilty – particularly on related sociopolitical aspects. She joined Iddri in 2011 to contribute to its research program on agriculture and food, while achieving in parallel a PhD on agricultural modernization in China. She has been working in China, in the United Kingdom, and with various other countries (Tunisia, Uruguay…). In addition to her research activities, Marie-Hélène Schwoob also teaches at Sciences Po Paris, Paris Dauphine University and Paris Sud University, and is a member of the Demeter editorial board.

Katja Searles, Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development, Germany

Katja Searles is a trained organic farmer with a passion for artisanal cheese-making. She holds a master degree in Agricultural Economics from University Hohenheim, Germany and investigates conditions of agricultural production, methods of distribution and access to natural resources and food. Katja Searles is particularly interested in the evolution and dynamics of social structures that affect inter- and intra- group relationships. For the SUFISA project she is happy to examine the dynamics of the aquaculture sector in Germany, a new and very interesting field.

Mikelis Grivins, Baltic Studies Centre, Latvia

Mikelis Grivins is a post-doctoral researcher at Baltic Studies Centre. Holding his doctoral degree in sociology Mikelis interests lie with practices linking rural development, culture, food systems, agriculture, forestry and sustainability. Currently, Mikelis is studying conditions shaping farmers’ daily practices, relations between practices dominating in the banking sector and farmers choices and culturally based framings explaining structural arrangements of agriculture sectors. Mikelis is also studying linkages between agriculture and forestry in Northern Europe.

Project coordination
University of Leuven, Division of Bioeconomics

Project coordinator: Prof Erik Mathijs
Project management: Tessa Avermaete (