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Unlocking the Future: Sustainable Agriculture as a Path to Prosperity for the Western Balkans

Znaor, Darko and Landau, Seth (2014) Unlocking the Future: Sustainable Agriculture as a Path to Prosperity for the Western Balkans. Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Zagreb Office, Zagreb.

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Unlocking the Future: Sustainable Agriculture as a Path to Prosperity for the Western Balkans is a study undertaken to try to assess the environmental and economic consequences of a shift to organic agriculture in the four Western Balkan countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia. The study aims to help policy makers and other stakeholders in the Western Balkan countries understand the potential positive impacts which could occur by investing in and designing sustainable policies for the agriculture sector.
One of the innovative aspects of this study is that it examines the externalities involved in agricultural production – comparing those of sustainable (organic) agriculture and conventional (high-input) agriculture. In economics, an externality is a cost or benefit which results from an activity or transaction and which affects an otherwise uninvolved party who did not choose to incur that cost or benefit. This study takes an approach which involves the economic valuation of ecosystem services and both positive and negative externalities. The authors are quite aware of the limitations of this approach. Some things have intrinsic qualities which cannot be translated well – if at all – into monetary terms. For example, how much is human life worth? How much is the existence of a species worth? How much is clean water and clean air worth? While the study contains valuations of some of these issues, this does not imply that the authors believe that these values are accurate as such. Instead, the study demonstrates the level of scale of externalities (both positive and negative) that are currently completely unaccounted for when discussing the value added of the agriculture sector.
The study has been developed in order to examine the multiple factors that go into evaluating the economic performance of agriculture beyond simple calculations of GDP. This issue is of major importance as people, businesses and governments have increasingly been realising that economic development takes place in a world with ecological and resource boundaries that impact all aspects of society. There is an imperative for a different model for development in agriculture. It is the authors’ belief that the region has a great opportunity to change this model – to move away from agricultural practices that have high negative impacts and towards an agriculture sector that is more sustainable ecologically while creating more jobs and more real value.
The study takes a regional approach with differentiation of analysis according to each country. This is because the issues faced by each country related to agriculture are often consistent, and programmes to move towards sustainable agriculture could be developed on a region-wide scale.
The study is organised into the following chapters:
Chapter 1:
Introduction discusses important global and local economic, social, and environmental issues related to conventional agricultural practices – including positive and negative externalities. It also describes the definition of sustainable agriculture to be used in the study and why this definition was chosen – focusing on organic farming. Finally, it contains a section that gives the basic information on the state of organic agriculture in each country.
Chapter 2:
Current Agricultural Policies in the Western Balkans provides background information about the policy and institutional frameworks in each of the four countries examined. This chapter also examines the level of subsidies for agriculture in each of the countries. Finally, this chapter examines the characteristics of each country’s agricultural sector in terms of human capacities, education, and information dissemination.
Chapter 3:
Research Framework and Methodology explores the objectives and relevance of the study, including summarizing the methodology and benchmark indicators used. This chapter also discusses the basic concepts behind the baseline analysed and the three different scenarios developed.
Chapter 4:
Setting up the Business as Usual Scenario examines the assumptions and other various aspects of the Business as Usual Scenario.
Chapter 5:
Setting Up the ECO and ECO+ Scenarios: A total conversion to organic farming describes the possibilities for organic farming and the assumptions that would be critical for the calculations of the impacts on the benchmark indicators.
Chapter 6:
The Baseline Situation discusses the results of the analysis of the baseline situation in terms of the statistical indicators related to the status of the agricultural sector in 2009 in the various countries – including economic evaluations of the impacts.
Chapter 7:
Development Scenarios Results contains information on the impacts of the different scenarios on the benchmark indicators.
Chapter 8:
Discussion on the Employed Methodology contains a discussion about the various aspects of the methodology and how they affected the calculations.
Chapter 9:
Summary of Key Findings and Conclusions contains a discussion of the results of the assessment and the implications for policy and practice in agriculture for the region.
Chapter 10:
Recommendations – the Way Forward contains concrete recommendations for policy-makers, practitioners and researchers in agriculture in the region.
The study concludes with 9 key findings:
Key Finding # 1: Agriculture in the Western Balkans does matter.
Key Finding #2: Current agricultural policies provide a ‘low profile’ support to organic farming.
Key Finding # 3: Current farming in the region does not create any real value added (= gross value added corrected for environmental externalities and public expenditures).
Key Finding #4: Building soil fertility and human and social capital is the key for a wider spread of organic farming.
Key Finding # 5: Conversion to organic farming provides more jobs.
Key Finding # 6: Conversion to organic farming produces more food.
Key Finding #7: Going organic is “greener”.
Key Finding # 8: Going organic is more profitable.
Key Finding #9: Business as usual is not an option.

EPrint Type:Book
Keywords:Conversion to large-scale organic farming; external costs of agriculture; true cost accounting of farming; widespread adoption of organic farming; scaling-up organic farming; Western Balkans;
Agrovoc keywords:
Subjects: Animal husbandry > Production systems
"Organics" in general
Farming Systems > Farm economics
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Specific methods > Indicators and other value-laden measures
Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Systems research and participatory research
Values, standards and certification > Assessment of impacts and risks
Food systems > Recycling, balancing and resource management
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Specific methods
Crop husbandry
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Food systems > Markets and trade
Environmental aspects > Biodiversity and ecosystem services
Values, standards and certification > Consumer issues
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
Farming Systems > Farm nutrient management
Values, standards and certification > Evaluation of inputs
Research affiliation:Other countries
Deposited By: Znaor, Dr Darko
ID Code:26377
Deposited On:08 Jan 2016 12:59
Last Modified:08 Jan 2016 12:59
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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