Partnering can Promote Sustainability in Agri-Food Supply Chains

Diverfarming, the European project established by the European Commission within its Horizon 2020 program, looks for environmental sustainability among low input management practices and crop diversification.

The project also looks for ways to implement sustainable breakthroughs into the agri-food supply chain, rendering it more sustainable as well. In this manner, value chain actors will also stand to gain a number of benefits, including economic stability.

In an effort to realize these improvements in agri-food supply chain, scientists from Diverfarming are looking into two different ways—the framework for pertinent policies, and the design and analysis of the value chains.

A recent development in this domain has been the publication of a study on how collaboration can encourage sustainability in agri-food supply chains concentrating on the case of Barilla Sustainable Farming in the Po Valley (Italy).

Pesticides pollution, eating habits, climate change, intensive exploitation of the natural resources such as the soil (in steady decline in fertility), and reduction in the amount of arable land available are problems that threaten the stability and sustainability of the agri-food market. As a result, it is essential to deal with these problems from diverse areas.

Since multinationals take care of the food production system, it is their responsibility to encourage democratic multi-level governance so as to make the production of food more sustainable. A few scientists have proposed what is known as multi-stakeholder partnerships, or MSP. This means, certain diverse groups share a common goal or problem but have varied interests.

Within this method, Diverfarming scientists Emmanuele Blasi and Barbara Pancino from University of Tuscia, Cesare Ronchi from Barilla G&R Fratelli SPA, and Stefano Pascucci from the University of Exeter have examined the case of Barilla Sustainable Farming (BSF). BSF is an initiative that is presently designing a multi-stakeholder collaboration and applying some sort of agreements between the varied stakeholders.

Such an initiative is performed by the Barilla group that launched sustainable agriculture practices in 2013 by establishing horizontal pacts between Cereal Docks, Co.Pro.B, and Casalasco Tomato Consortium, its key input suppliers.

With this agreement, all three companies combined their supply chains through a crop rotation system that integrates sunflower, wheat crops, rapeseed, and sugar beet. While the agreements are currently bilateral, the companies are looking for ways to transform it into a multilateral one.

Following the analysis, a two-level method to apply the crop rotation system has been proposed in the scientific article. While the first level is an agreement to involve farmers around the advantages of crop diversification, the second level refers to the partnership between the stakeholders in the consortium looking to combine the supply chains, the association between partners, and also the advancement of a series of contracts that can be provided to the farmers.

With this kind of multi-stakeholder partnerships and collaboration, the implementation of sustainable management practices, including crop diversification, may become effective and prove handy for realizing a more sustainable agricultural system across Europe.

Diverfarming is a project funded by the Horizon 2020 Program of the European Commission, within the challenge of “Food Security, Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Marine, Maritime and Inland Water Research and the Bioeconomy,” which counts on the involvement of the Universities of Cartagena and Córdoba (Spain), Tuscia (Italy), Exeter and Portsmouth (UK), Wageningen (Netherlands), Trier (Germany), Pecs (Hungary), and ETH Zurich (Switzerland).

This also includes the research centers Consiglio per la ricerca in agricoltura e l’analisi dell’economia agraria (Italy), the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (Spain) and the Natural Resources Institute LUKE (Finland), the agrarian organisation ASAJA.

Companies like Casalasco and Barilla (Italy), Arento, Disfrimur Logística and Industrias David (Spain), Nieuw Bromo Van Tilburg and Ekoboerdeij de Lingehof (Netherlands), Weingut Dr. Frey (Germany), Nedel-Market KFT and Gere (Hungary), and Paavolan Kotijuustola and Polven Juustola (Finland) are also involved.


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