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Focus groups of value concepts of producers: National Report Italy

Roviglioni, Raffaella (2005) Focus groups of value concepts of producers: National Report Italy. EEC 2092/91 (Organic Revision Internal Project Report), no. Related to D 2.1. Associazione Italiana per l'Agricoltura Biologica (AIAB), IT-Rome .

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The Organic Revision project was funded by the EU with the aim of supporting the further development of the EU Regulation 2092/91 on organic production. As part of the project focus groups were run in five European countries on value concepts of organic producers and other stakeholders, during 2004-2005. The project aims to provide an overview of values held among organic stakeholders, and of similarities and differences among the various national and private organic standards.
In Italy four focus groups were held, a pre-test with AIAB staff, a group of policy makers, a group of established organic producers and a group of newly converted producers.
The following conclusions were reached: The general impression is that there are three main values or areas which were considered important by all participants:
• food quality and health (safety)
• environment health and care
• livelihood.
Within the first issue, many detailed implications are included, starting from own health, consumers’ health, and so on, arriving to food safety, avoiding residues and link to regional or local territory. In this area, there were no significant differences between groups, perhaps only some personal point of view which could differ from one person to another; but generally speaking, this point was considered fundamental by all participants.
It is important to mention that many discussions and ideas were raised by the term “quality” which seems very meaningful depending also on who is related to. Interesting was the idea about the possibility of finding measurable parameters of food quality in order to make it more comprehensible for consumers.
More or less the same kind of considerations could be attributed to the value of environment health/care (which sometimes overlaps). In this case, we could say that virtually there was no real difference amongst participants, also in terms of personal values or points of view. The concept that organic farming is fundamental for preserving the environment and land it’s clear for all, and all of them agreed that this value should be strongly communicated to consumers.
Regarding the third value, ‘livelihood’, it is possible to affirm that it is a fundamental aspect either in farmers and policy makers. But to say if this has to be considered as a value, rather than a mere practical problem, it is difficult to assess. In our opinion, farmers did not expressed their financial concern as directly linked to organic farming; they were more likely complaining about an actual situation, that could also change in the future. They were not expecting livelihood to be included in the organic farming values.
Additional thinking over could be done on other minor areas, for their differences and peculiarities amongst participants. The issues of soil and animal welfare were discussed only by very few participants. The first one, was mentioned only by two cattle farmers in the experienced farmers group, having opposite ideas. The second one was cited only by two persons in two different groups. It seems that these matters are of secondary importance for Italian farmers and stakeholders. Or maybe, they are somehow included in other bigger areas.
Also, the area of professional pride was considered quite important by many participants, especially by the experienced group, which mentioned it from the beginning, including it in the associations and in the motives for their conversion to the organic sector. Another aspect that was shared by all of them was the disappointment in finding out that consumers do not recognize their role and their value, so their efforts for doing “the right thing” seem worthless sometimes.
Values under the ecological integrity area were yet discussed, but for sure were not considered relevant as others. Somebody focused on biodiversity, someone on energy consumption, but it was more a personal conviction moving these ideas than a typical characteristic. This is also demonstrated by the fact that there was not a clear connection between value importance and group category.
Last, but not least, the moral implications in organic farming were indicated by two women from two different producers groups, indicating perhaps that women could be more interested in ethical values also in their professional life.

EPrint Type:Report
Keywords:Italy; focus group; conversion; growth; motives; attitute; market; values
Subjects: Values, standards and certification > Regulation
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Systems research and participatory research
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > Italy
Research affiliation: Italy > Other organizations
European Union > Organic Revision
UK > Univ. Aberystwyth > Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS)
Denmark > ICROFS - International Centre for Research in Organic Food Systems
Related Links:http://www.organic-revision.org
Deposited By: Padel, Dr Susanne
ID Code:10991
Deposited On:09 Jul 2007
Last Modified:12 Apr 2010 07:35
Document Language:English
Refereed:Not peer-reviewed

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