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The societal demand for multifunctionality – priorities from the perspective of regional stakeholders

Schader, Christian; Stolze, Matthias and Moschitz, Heidrun (2007) The societal demand for multifunctionality – priorities from the perspective of regional stakeholders. Paper at: MEA-Scope Final Workshop, Florence, Italy, 17. -20. September 2007.

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Online at: http://www.zalf.de/home_meascope/website/publications/index.htm


In order to foster a multifunctional agriculture that is adapted to the societal demand, the preferences of the regional population for functions provided by agriculture have to be identified. This demand, however, is difficult to measure economically, since multifunctionality is partly concerned with public goods.
Our study aimed at identifying the societal demand for economic, ecological and sociocultural functions of agriculture and the underlying reasons within the framework of multifunctionality. Therefore, methods which can measure several functions at the same time and which include also qualitative information in addition to revealing Willingness-to-pay (WTP) values were regarded as most appropriate.
For our research question, we opted for an indirect method, based on stated, collective preferences of regional representatives and experts for rural development (e.g. mayors from towns located in the case studies, representative from tourist or environmental organisations, experts from agricultural or regional administrative bodies, coordinators of Leader projects and researchers). We applied Stakeholder Delphi Approach: The first step aimed at seizing the whole range of relevant views on the issue by individual face-to-face interviews, while the second step condensed this information to a prioritisation of functions using a budget game approach. The results of the interviews were analysed by means of qualitative content analysis. Prioritisations and budget allocations were interpreted with descriptive statistics.
Assuming that there are regional differences concerning the societal demand, this study was implemented in four case studies: River Gudenå (Denmark), Ostprignitz-Ruppin (OPR) (Germany), Mugello, (Italy), and Kościan (Poland). First, each case study was analysed separately, then a cross-country comparison was carried out.
The results of this research indicate that there is a considerable societal demand for multifunctional agriculture in all cases studied. However, the roles the stakeholders attributed to regional agriculture varied between the case studies. In most of the case studies, the stakeholders opted for a relatively balanced demand allocation in terms of economic, ecological, and socio-cultural functions, whereas the stakeholders in OPR put a slight emphasis on economic functions.
While the stakeholders of the OPR case study gave absolute priority to the provision of jobs, the stakeholders in the Danish case study were strongly concerned about the elimination of negative effects of agriculture such as smells and nitrate in drinking water. In both cases a significant share of the demand was allocated towards para agricultural activities, such as agri-tourism and the provision of renewable energies, whereas functions directly related to food production attained a relatively small proportion of the demand.
The case study “Kościan” in Poland suggests, in contrast, a strong societal demand for food-production related functions, such as regional food supply and quality food production, while an improvement of the rural infrastructure was also highly prioritised.
In the case of Mugello (Italy) two clusters of agricultural functions were identified: A high societal demand was stated both for the functions related to food production and landscape related functions, including the maintenance of a hydro-ecological equilibrium.
We conclude that despite the regional differences concerning the importance of multifunctional services of agriculture, there is a strong demand for multifunctional agriculture as a whole.
These results have to be interpreted with care, given the explorative character of the study. We faced a variety of methodological challenges. Particularly, the relatively small sample per case study and the limited information flow to the involved stakeholders needs to be addressed in future studies. Nevertheless, our results give valuable insights into the demand structure and its underlying reasons for the complex matter of multifunctionality.
Thus, on the basis of our results we are able to provide policy recommendations for a future Model of European Agriculture backed by the preferences prevailing in society. Furthermore, we give suggestions for further research concerning the societal demand for the functions of agriculture.

EPrint Type:Conference paper, poster, etc.
Type of presentation:Paper
Keywords:Sozio-Ökonomie, Multifunktionalität, MEASCOPE, case study, multifunctional agriculture
Subjects: Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Research affiliation: Switzerland > FiBL - Research Institute of Organic Agriculture Switzerland > Socio-Economics
Related Links:http://www.fibl.org/forschung/soziooekonomie/index.php
Deposited By: Schader, Dr. Christian
ID Code:13384
Deposited On:14 Apr 2008
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:37
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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