Author: Katharina Biely
That the 13th IFSA conference SUFISA hosted three sessions to present research resulting from three years of research. The topics of the sessions were risk management, regional and sectoral condition for farming in Europe, and cooperation as farming strategies. The presented research papers can be accessed via the conference webpage. The majority of the presented research papers comprise comparative studies among the case study commodities and countries. The SUFISA project has taken up the challenge to compare different commodities within different countries, a challenge that increasingly bares fruit. Synergies as well as tensions across the case studies become clear. Since the European agricultural sector is diverse the analysis of this diversity can support policy makers in accommodating this diversity. For example, in the fruit case opposing strategies regarding diversification and specialization became evident. A similar trend can be observed pertaining horizontal cooperation, whereat different case study countries exhibit different degrees of cooperation within the analyzed fruit sector. Within the arable croup group interesting parallels could be found between the German rapeseed and the Belgian sugar beet case. Farmers struggle with market concentration on the processing level and with diminishing prices. Though they seem to react differently to these conditions. The fishery case pointed out the importance of social capital for farmers to successfully react to their market situation.
To get these insights researchers relied on qualitative as well as quantitative research. These are complementary approaches and hence enrich the analysis. Through this process the analysis has breadth and depth. Qualitative data collection was used as exploratory tool, to understand the respective conditions that farmers face. Further farmers’ strategies were inquired, building the foundation for the SUFISA research consortium to identify target areas that should be analyzed in detail with a producer survey. The survey allowed the SUFISA consortium to get insights in specific issues, over a larger number of farmers. The results of qualitative and quantitative data in concert permitted the SUFISA research consortium to get a better understanding of the respective case study situation.
Hence the output from the SUFISA project is rich in content, not only regarding the studied cases but also regarding the methods employed.