Special Issue "Distributed, Interconnected and Democratic Agri-Food Economies: New Directions in Research"

A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Giaime Berti

School of Economics and Management University of Florence, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: rural development and rural development policies; local food systems and food policies; participatory and deliberative democracy
Co-Guest Editor
Prof. Moya Kneafsey

Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, Priory Street, Coventry, West Midlands, CV1 5FB, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: short food chains; community-led food systems; territorial food systems
Co-Guest Editor
Prof. Larry Lev

Department of Applied Economics, 221C Ballard Extension Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: agriculture of the middle; values-based food supply chains; food from somewhere; local and regional food systems
Co-Guest Editor
Dr. Irene Monasterolo

Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer Range Future, Boston University, 67 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: complex food systems; climate finance; climate policy; agricultural risk
Co-Guest Editor
Prof. Sergio Schneider

Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Post-Graduate Programme in Rural Development, Avenida João Pessoa, 31, Centro, 90040-000, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil and Academic Visitor at Centre for Food Policy School of Arts & Social Sciences, Department of Sociology, City University London, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: sociology of food; rural development; food security; rural non-agricultural activities; family farming; territorial development and rural policies

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Agri-food systems, dominated by vertically integrated large private enterprises, have undoubtedly contributed to achieving high food production and productivity levels along the food supply chain. At the same time, they have failed to meet the challenge of feeding a growing global population within the limits of the “Planetary Boundaries” and the cost-price squeeze of commodity production has increased marginalization, inequality, and vulnerability of small and medium size producers. In order to achieve the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals, the transition to “sustainable agri-food systems” has become a core policy objective at local, national, and international levels.

Following the insights and recommendations of De Schutter’s Report, “The transformative potential of the right to food”, this Special Issue aims at developing a multidisciplinary discussion on the re-construction of local and regional agri-food systems as a response to the existing conventional agri-food systems crisis. In this Special Issue, we frame the transition to sustainable agri-food systems as a re-configuration of rural-urban relationships, putting rural development, economic viability, and “sustainable scaling” for the rural and peri-urban family farms at the heart of the sustainable re-connection between the countryside, ecosystems, and the city. Furthermore, according to De Schutter, transition to sustainable agri-food systems needs democratization of the agri-food production and distribution system since “the greatest deficit in the food economy is the democratic one”. Indeed, the re-construction of local and regional agri-food systems may result in the economic democratization of food by operating a decentralization of control over food systems to the local people, that implies the possibility for communities to choose which food systems to depend on and how to reshape those systems.

 

This Special Issue aims at creating a space to discuss re-territorialization practices and theories beyond the disciplinary boundaries and at connecting different approaches that are separately dispersed. We are seeking contributions on practices and theories operating at three different levels: micro, meso, and macro.

The micro level perspective corresponds to the farm. New re-territorialization practices consist of new or diverse activities that re-define farming and farm boundaries along four directions:

  • Agroecology;
  • multifunctional diversification;
  • ecosystem services;
  • climate smart agriculture.

The meso level perspective corresponds to the local and regional markets and food supply chains. Re-territorialization strategies involve the construction of new «nested markets» created through a process of re-spatialization and re-socialization of farming and distribution aiming at re-connecting the small and mid-scale farms with the broad local rural economy and at bridging the urban–rural divide. The creation of nested markets is led by new organizational and coordinative economic structures and patterns and innovative business models that are presented in the literature with distinct concepts and approaches:

  • Alternative Agri-Food Networks;
  • Short Food Supply Chains;
  • Values Based Food Supply Chains;
  • Complex Adaptive Food Systems.

 

From being “novelties”, after almost three decades of impressive growth, those practices have become “mature niches” and this Special Issue aims at identifying what the next steps are. Indeed, scaling (up and out) is the next hurdle for these new markets, and organizational and business structures. In order to effect broader systemic impacts and to meet both the rise of the local foods market they will have to grow.

According to the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity and avoiding the risks of the “local trap” and “defensive localism” thisSpecial Issue aims to analyze the main challenges rural development strategies in the scaling process:

  • providing the right quantity and consistency of products and at the same time maintaining the quality for individuals, families, and big buyers needs,
  • providing a more varied range of products, and therefore overcoming the existing tension between variety and locality
  • improving accessibility and convenience for meeting the consumers needs of healthy and fresh food, especially for low-income communities
  • assuring food security and safety while preserving ecosystems through the introduction of climate smart, sustainable land use practices along the food chain.

To cope with those challenges, more diffused, coordinated, effective, and efficient supply and distribution systems are needed, but many scholars advert the risk of co-optation within the conventional food systems. Can local food scale (out and up) its positive impacts on society without becoming Tesco? In other words, is it possible to borrow some of the economic and logistical efficiencies of the conventional food chain while retaining social and environmental priorities such as sustainable agricultural practices and profitability for small- and mid-scale family farms and food businesses? New business models and organizational structures as Food Hubs (out and up) are able to achieve scale by aggregating products from multiple farms. In opposition to the economies of scale model, they allow small-scale farmers sustainable scaling up through collective action rather than increasing the size of individual farms.

This Special Issue aims at answering these questions and to go further into the theoretical speculation for the understanding of how this transition to sustainable regional and local agri-food systems model can be conceptualized into more macro (national and international) economies that characterize our societies.

We invite case studies, theoretical, or literature review papers aiming at presenting and analyzing different approaches adopted to conceptualize re-territorialization strategies at a micro level (agroecology, multifunctional diversification; ecosystem services; climate smart agriculture) at a meso level (Alternative Agri-Food Networks; Short Food Supply Chains; Values Based Food Supply Chains; Complex Adaptive Food Systems). Furthermore, we invite papers on the scaling-up of local food systems and on how a distributed and interconnected agri-food economies model can respond to macro level socio-economic structures.

Rather than presenting a single unified and overarching conceptual framework, this Special Issue aims to ‘connect the dots’, creating a conceptual map of the different theories and discourses on sustainable regional and local agri-food systems. In this conceptual map we aim to identify limits and potentials of the single theories and discourses and to emphasize the differences and similarities that exist among them. Recognizing that activities at the scale of the local and the global are in many ways co-constitutive and relational, we also examine how processes operating at different scales interact and feed back into each other, rather than operating in isolation.

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Agriculture is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 550 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • sustainable and climate smart agriculture
  • local food system
  • food value chains
  • alternative food networks
  • territorial food systems
  • nested market
  • complex adaptive food systems
  • rural development
  • food democracy

Published Papers (16 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Beyond Food Provisioning: The Transformative Potential of Grassroots Innovation around Food
Agriculture 2017, 7(1), 6; doi:10.3390/agriculture7010006
Received: 14 July 2016 / Revised: 2 December 2016 / Accepted: 11 January 2017 / Published: 19 January 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (243 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The newly-emerged ethical foodscape includes multiple expressions of innovation around food. With reference to the Italian context, this paper focuses on the transformative potential of the experiences of social innovation, innovative grassroots initiatives, which have been significantly contributed to shaping the food culture
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The newly-emerged ethical foodscape includes multiple expressions of innovation around food. With reference to the Italian context, this paper focuses on the transformative potential of the experiences of social innovation, innovative grassroots initiatives, which have been significantly contributed to shaping the food culture and production-consumption practices during the last two decades. While still consolidating their fundamentals and facing the challenge of growth, the networks behind them continue to be engaged in an effort of innovation, inside and outside their niche. The paper explores these dynamics. Understanding how these networks are managing their transformative capacity and what are the opportunities and challenges arising in the relation with the mainstream system may help to better capture and value the potential of this innovation niche, drawing useful lessons for fostering its expression and for a broader transition to more equitable and sustainable food systems. Full article
Open AccessArticle State Support in Brazil for a Local Turn to Food
Agriculture 2017, 7(1), 5; doi:10.3390/agriculture7010005
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 30 December 2016 / Accepted: 7 January 2017 / Published: 16 January 2017
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Abstract
The local turn to food is often claimed to be a way to increase the value-added component retained by primary producers and to provide healthy, fresh and affordable food to consumers. Rio do Grande do Sul in Brazil has several governmental support programs
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The local turn to food is often claimed to be a way to increase the value-added component retained by primary producers and to provide healthy, fresh and affordable food to consumers. Rio do Grande do Sul in Brazil has several governmental support programs that aim to empower family farmers and open up new market opportunities for them. This article examines these programs, investigates how small-scale farmers engage with them and the resultant changes in farming and marketing practices that ensue. The article uses cluster and content analysis to identify and interpret the extent, and the different ways, in which these farmers engage with and make use of the local knowledge and innovation system. The results provide useful insights into how policy instruments improve the performance of family agribusinesses, helping them to make better use of the resources available to them, encouraging farm diversification, and strengthening local interrelations between producers and consumers. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Self-Organization and the Bypass: Re-Imagining Institutions for More Sustainable Development in Agriculture and Food
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 66; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040066
Received: 30 July 2016 / Revised: 7 December 2016 / Accepted: 9 December 2016 / Published: 17 December 2016
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Abstract
In exploring the social dynamics of agrofood movements in Ecuador as examples of self-organization (i.e., locally distributed and resolved development), this article departs from a preoccupation with innovation by means of design and the use of scaling as a metaphor for describing research
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In exploring the social dynamics of agrofood movements in Ecuador as examples of self-organization (i.e., locally distributed and resolved development), this article departs from a preoccupation with innovation by means of design and the use of scaling as a metaphor for describing research contributions in agriculture and food. The case material highlights that much development is contingent, unpredictable, and unmanageable as well as unbound to fixed spaces or places. In their study of people’s daily practice, the authors do not find clear boundaries between dichotomies of internal–external, lay–expert, traditional–modern, or local–global organization, but heterogeneous blends of each. For the purposes of sustainable development, this highlights the need for attention to be paid to relationships (social, material, and biological), adaptation (the capacity to innovate), and responsibility (adherence to norms of sustainability). Far from romanticizing self-organization, the authors acknowledge that people and their institutions share varying degrees of complicity for the goods as well as the bads of their economic activity, such as mass soil degradation, agrobiodiversity loss, and poisoning by pesticides. Nevertheless, even under highly difficult conditions, certain actors effectively bypass the limitations of formal institutions in forging a socio-technical course of action (i.e., policy) for relatively healthy living and being. As such, the authors have come to appreciate self-organization as a neglected, if paradoxical, resource for policy transition towards more sustainable agriculture and food. Full article
Open AccessArticle Systemic Analysis of Food Supply and Distribution Systems in City-Region Systems—An Examination of FAO’s Policy Guidelines towards Sustainable Agri-Food Systems
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 65; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040065
Received: 31 August 2016 / Revised: 11 October 2016 / Accepted: 17 November 2016 / Published: 7 December 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2390 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The world is continuously transforming to supply growing cities and urbanization processes are still driving important changes in our current food systems. Future sustainability constraints are emphasizing that Food Supply and Distribution Systems (FSDS) are deeply embedded in city-region systems with specific technical
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The world is continuously transforming to supply growing cities and urbanization processes are still driving important changes in our current food systems. Future sustainability constraints are emphasizing that Food Supply and Distribution Systems (FSDS) are deeply embedded in city-region systems with specific technical and socio-ecological characteristics. This paper aims to provide a systemic understanding on FSDS focusing the integration of urban and rural structures considering the system biophysical boundaries and societal targets. A qualitative framework model, based on the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)’s FSDS literature, has been developed by using Systems Thinking (ST) and System Dynamics (SD) approaches. The model analysis suggested that to increase sustainability and resilience of food systems large emphasis has to be maintained on: (i) estimation of local territorial carrying capacities; (ii) land use planning to enhance connections among rural supplies and city needs; (iii) city policies, to regulate emergent market size and local scale of production; (iv) technological efficiency at farm, distribution and market levels; (v) urban, peri-urban and rural functional linkages that considers social metabolic balances; (vi) rural development as a core point for building sustainable food systems and counteracting the urbanization growth. These key areas are relevant to test new paths of cities-regions reconfiguration towards the transition to resilient agri-food systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Nested Markets, Food Networks, and New Pathways for Rural Development in Brazil
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 61; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040061
Received: 31 May 2016 / Revised: 31 October 2016 / Accepted: 12 November 2016 / Published: 22 November 2016
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Abstract
This paper applies the frameworks of nested markets and alternative food networks to two empirical cases in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, aiming to analyse the construction and dynamics of these markets in order to demonstrate how their dimensions of
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This paper applies the frameworks of nested markets and alternative food networks to two empirical cases in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, aiming to analyse the construction and dynamics of these markets in order to demonstrate how their dimensions of quality, location, and nature are built and sustained, especially with regard to their interface with broader markets and their contributions to rural development practices, policies, and processes. The paper focuses on the study of rural tourism in Caminhos de Pedra Route, in the municipality of Bento Gonçalves, and the Farmers’ Market, in the municipality of Passo Fundo. Both cases represent alternative practices and processes of rural development and bear features that associate them to the nested markets. It is noteworthy that the influence of conventional food markets in these cases shows that nested markets do not operate in isolation but coexist and are continuously in connection with broader agri-food markets. In this sense, despite being subject to criticism and showing limitations, nested markets constitute increasingly robust strategies for rural development practices, processes, and policies, being able to create opportunities for families’ livelihood in rural areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle From Short Food Supply Chains to Sustainable Agriculture in Urban Food Systems: Food Democracy as a Vector of Transition
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 57; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040057
Received: 31 May 2016 / Revised: 18 October 2016 / Accepted: 20 October 2016 / Published: 28 October 2016
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Abstract
In industrialized nations, local food networks have generally been analyzed through alternative food systems, in spite of the fact that they are much more diverse than this would imply. In France, ‘short food chains’ are both a continuation of a long tradition and
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In industrialized nations, local food networks have generally been analyzed through alternative food systems, in spite of the fact that they are much more diverse than this would imply. In France, ‘short food chains’ are both a continuation of a long tradition and a recent trend which now extends beyond activists, to consumers and producers as well. This paper will explore the conditions under which these chains can change the practices and knowledge of ordinary actors in urban food systems, from producers to urban consumers and policy-makers, in the area of agriculture and sustainability. It will consider the case study of the creation and development of an urban open-air market which has been analyzed using intervention research with input from economic sociology. We will highlight how personal relations, which are encouraged by a participatory context, support the evolution of practices and knowledge. We will also illustrate how a system of produce labelling has emerged as a mediation resource, and has increased changes as well as participation within the re-territorialization of the urban food system. By describing a concrete expression of food democracy which is spreading in France via a free collective trademark, and by showing its role in the transition of ‘ordinary’ actors towards a more sustainable agriculture, this paper will shine new light onto local food chains as well as traditional short food chains, and will call for more research on the subject. Full article
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Open AccessArticle PDO as a Mechanism for Reterritorialisation and Agri-Food Governance: A Comparative Analysis of Cheese Products in the UK and Switzerland
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 54; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040054
Received: 27 July 2016 / Revised: 7 October 2016 / Accepted: 10 October 2016 / Published: 18 October 2016
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Abstract
The protection of geographical indications (European regulation 1151/2012) is arguably the most significant initiative, certainly within Europe, that promotes foods with territorial associations and reorganises agri-food chain governance through a strategy of reterritorialisation. Research on Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs) and Protected Geographical
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The protection of geographical indications (European regulation 1151/2012) is arguably the most significant initiative, certainly within Europe, that promotes foods with territorial associations and reorganises agri-food chain governance through a strategy of reterritorialisation. Research on Protected Designation of Origins (PDOs) and Protected Geographical Indications (PGIs) suggests that they generate significant economic value at an EU-level, especially in certain countries. They can also help to deliver territorial rural development policy and develop new food markets. In this paper we examine the way the PDO scheme has been developed and applied in one commodity sector (cheese) in two countries (Switzerland and the UK), where the uptake of PDOs is variable. We adopt a food chain approach and examine specific cheese product case studies (at micro and meso levels) in both countries to better understand how the PDO scheme (as a territorialisation and respacing strategy) is implemented. L’Etivaz and Le Gruyère are examined in Switzerland. Single Gloucester and West Country cheddar are examined in the UK. The PDO scheme is an important governance strategy and regulatory system, but despite strict guidelines regarding implementation and geographical infrastructure there are notable differences between the UK and Switzerland in terms of how the label is used to organise and respatialise food chains: it is framed as a strategy to protect the rural economy in Switzerland but is promoted more as a mechanism to communicate and reconnect with consumers in the UK. Full article
Open AccessArticle Combining Multifunctionality and Ecosystem Services into a Win-Win Solution. The Case Study of the Serchio River Basin (Tuscany—Italy)
Agriculture 2016, 6(4), 49; doi:10.3390/agriculture6040049
Received: 12 July 2016 / Revised: 16 September 2016 / Accepted: 20 September 2016 / Published: 30 September 2016
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Abstract
Post-war development—characterized by intensive processes of urbanization, concentration of agriculture on the most fertile lands, and abandonment of mountainous and marginal areas—brought about negative environmental and socio-economic consequences. They have been particularly severe in terms of increase of hydrogeological risk, which is high
[...] Read more.
Post-war development—characterized by intensive processes of urbanization, concentration of agriculture on the most fertile lands, and abandonment of mountainous and marginal areas—brought about negative environmental and socio-economic consequences. They have been particularly severe in terms of increase of hydrogeological risk, which is high in most Italian regions. Over time, there has been an increasing awareness of the multiple functions played by agriculture in terms of provision of Ecosystem Services (ES), which contribute fundamentally to human well-being. In particular, some ES provided by farmers may help to reduce the hydrogeological risk of territories prone to landslides and floods. In this framework, the paper presents as a case study the project “Farmers as Custodians of a Territory.” This project was implemented in the Serchio River basin, Tuscany (Italy), and combines a multifunctional farm strategy of diversification with the provision of Ecosystem Services related to the hydraulic and hydrogeological protection of the river-basin territory. Although this case study should be read within the framework of the theories of agricultural multifunctionality and ES provision, it nevertheless took a very pragmatic and innovative approach, which differentiates it from most of the case studies given in the literature. Results of our analysis show that, by involving farmers as custodians of the territory, it is possible to reach a “win-win” solution characterized, on the one hand, by better services for the community at a lower cost for the Land Reclamation Consortia involved with hydrogeological risk prevention, thus improving the effectiveness and efficiency of ES provision; and on the other hand, by improving the economic situation and survival chances of local farms. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Food For Life Catering Mark: Implementing the Sustainability Transition in University Food Procurement
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 46; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030046
Received: 13 June 2016 / Revised: 1 September 2016 / Accepted: 9 September 2016 / Published: 14 September 2016
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Abstract
This article presents a case study of the application of the Soil Association’s Food For Life Catering Mark at two universities in England: Nottingham Trent University and University of the Arts London. This procurement initiative has had noteworthy success in the U.K., with
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This article presents a case study of the application of the Soil Association’s Food For Life Catering Mark at two universities in England: Nottingham Trent University and University of the Arts London. This procurement initiative has had noteworthy success in the U.K., with more than 1.6 million Catering Mark meals served each weekday. This article, based on 31 in-depth interviews conducted in 2015, is the first to examine its impact and significance at the university level. In particular, this article tests the concepts of the niche, regime and landscape in the multi-level perspective (MLP), a prominent theoretical approach to sustainability transition, against the experience of the Food For Life Catering Mark. The article confirms the importance of the landscape level of the MLP in the food sustainability transition, while adding additional considerations that need to be specified when applying the MLP to the food sector. By highlighting the essential role of civil society organizations (CSOs), public institutions and many champions, this article proposes that more room must be made within the MLP for the explicit role of agency, champions and the implementation process itself. Indeed, this article argues that implementation, the daily practice, is deserving of both increased recognition and theory. Full article
Open AccessArticle Sustainable and Inclusive Food Systems through the Lenses of a Complex System Thinking Approach—A Bibliometric Review
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 44; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030044
Received: 15 July 2016 / Revised: 23 August 2016 / Accepted: 30 August 2016 / Published: 6 September 2016
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Abstract
The multidimensionality and complexity of assuring food security in a sustainable and inclusive way requires us to think in systems. Yet, sector specific models or agricultural productivity models are not able by construction to represent the non-linearity and time-dependent nature of the relations
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The multidimensionality and complexity of assuring food security in a sustainable and inclusive way requires us to think in systems. Yet, sector specific models or agricultural productivity models are not able by construction to represent the non-linearity and time-dependent nature of the relations underpinning the agri-food system. Two alternative modelling approaches, i.e., System Dynamics (SD) and Agent Based Models (ABM), gained increasing attention in particular after the food commodities prices spikes in 2007 thanks to the conceptual and structural advantages that they provide to the study of food system complexity. In this paper, we develop a first, rigorous bibliometric analysis based on pattern recognition analysis reviewing the peer review journal publications focused on agri-food systems. Using the ISIWeb of Science dataset provided by Thomson Reuters, we apply citation/co-citation semantic metrics to analyse publications from 1970 to 2016 in the field of agricultural models divided in two categories that we define as: (i) agricultural complex systems modelling (ACSM) that includes SD and ABM modelling exercised; and (ii) agricultural modelling (AM) that includes traditional approaches to agri-food systems modelling rooted on the neoclassical approach (e.g., Computable General Equilibrium Models and Partial Equilibrium Models). The publications are identified by applying a filter of specific keywords to the search. We then compare how both approaches appear in the literature looking at the number of publications and citations by scientific journals, identifying key authors and journals, their frequency, the impact factor and citations, and looking at their trend through time. Results show the prevalence of AM approaches for the analysis of the agri-food sector on one side, and the smaller but growing contribution of the ACSM community and literature on the other. We conclude by remarking the need for more systematic analyses on the contribution of the two approaches to the analysis of the complex dynamics and behaviour of agri-food systems to inform evidence-based policies for sustainable and inclusive agriculture. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Creole Hens and Ranga-Ranga: Campesino Foodways and Biocultural Resource-Based Development in the Central Valley of Tarija, Bolivia
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 41; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030041
Received: 1 June 2016 / Revised: 5 August 2016 / Accepted: 16 August 2016 / Published: 26 August 2016
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Abstract
Biocultural heritage-based products, including regional specialty foods, are increasingly part of sustainable rural development strategies. While export-oriented biocultural products are often the most visible, we examine the role of campesino gastronomic heritage in the Central Valley of Tarija, Bolivia, as a case study
[...] Read more.
Biocultural heritage-based products, including regional specialty foods, are increasingly part of sustainable rural development strategies. While export-oriented biocultural products are often the most visible, we examine the role of campesino gastronomic heritage in the Central Valley of Tarija, Bolivia, as a case study of a local market-centered biocultural resource-based development strategy reflected in an alternative agri-food network. We develop a biocultural sustainability framework to examine this network from ecological, economic and sociocultural perspectives. Data are drawn from interviews (n = 77), surveys (n = 89) and participant observation, with primary and secondary producers of traditional and new products, as well as restaurant owners, market vendors and local consumers. We find that campesino biocultural heritage and the alternative agri-food network surrounding it represent an influential territorial project that underpins many household economies, particularly for women. We conclude that the relatively small investments by local governments to promote campesino gastronomic heritage are having positive ripple effects on small-scale producer livelihoods and on biocultural sustainability. We suggest that further support to increase market access and reduce other barriers to participation in alternative food networks will likely increase the options and benefits available to small-scale producers mobilising campesino gastronomic heritage within the local economy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle The Symbiotic Food System: An ‘Alternative’ Agri-Food System Already Working at Scale
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 40; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030040
Received: 7 June 2016 / Revised: 3 August 2016 / Accepted: 16 August 2016 / Published: 24 August 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4027 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article is an analysis of the agri-food system that feeds most of the over four million residents of the fast growing city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It is based on qualitative research that has traced the sources of some important
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This article is an analysis of the agri-food system that feeds most of the over four million residents of the fast growing city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. It is based on qualitative research that has traced the sources of some important foods from urban eaters back through retailers, processors and transporters to the primary producers. Particular attention is given to the functioning of the market places and how new actors enter into the food system. These reveal that more important to the system than competition are various forms of collaboration. Of particular interest is how a wide range of small-scale and interdependent actors produce the food and get it to urban eaters at a city feeding scale without large vertically- or horizontally-integrated corporate structures. This “symbiotic food system” is an existing alternative to the corporate-dominated agri-business food system; it can and does deliver at scale and in a way that better responds to the needs of people in poverty who are buying food and the interests of food producers. It is not perfect in Dar es Salaam, but the food system is working and is a model that should be built on. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Values-Based Supply Chains as a Strategy for Supporting Small and Mid-Scale Producers in the United States
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 39; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030039
Received: 12 June 2016 / Revised: 9 August 2016 / Accepted: 12 August 2016 / Published: 22 August 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (882 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Consumers are increasingly interested in the “values” associated with the food they eat and are often willing to pay more for food for which there is a “story” that links farm to fork. The “values” associated with these foods may be that they
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Consumers are increasingly interested in the “values” associated with the food they eat and are often willing to pay more for food for which there is a “story” that links farm to fork. The “values” associated with these foods may be that they are locally produced, by small or mid-scale farms, or use production practices that enhance the environment. Wholesale channels that provide marketing options for small and mid-scale producers and support these values are referred to as “values-based supply chains” (VBSCs). Goals of VBSCs are to: (1) provide greater economic stability for producers and others along the supply chain; and (2) provide high quality, regional food to consumers. After a brief overview of VBSCs, we then describe three cases—a specialty food manufacturer, a natural food cooperative and a regional “food hub”—representing different entry points along the food supply chain. We analyze them regarding the common benefits of VBSCs: transparency, fair prices to farmers and ease of purchasing from small and mid-scale producers. We conclude with common themes that emerge for VBSCs of the future and what it will take to strengthen them within regional food systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Developing Mid-Tier Supply Chains (France) and Values-Based Food Supply Chains (USA): A Comparison of Motivations, Achievements, Barriers and Limitations
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 36; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030036
Received: 22 June 2016 / Revised: 16 July 2016 / Accepted: 20 July 2016 / Published: 9 August 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (212 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Mid-tier supply chains/values-based food supply chains have emerged, in both France and the United States, as viable alternatives for small and mid-sized farms that had previously struggled. These supply chains deliver more products to a larger region than short supply chains such as
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Mid-tier supply chains/values-based food supply chains have emerged, in both France and the United States, as viable alternatives for small and mid-sized farms that had previously struggled. These supply chains deliver more products to a larger region than short supply chains such as farm-direct markets and are distinguished from the dominant long supply chains by (1) products that are differentiated from the mainstream based on superior quality, environmental stewardship and social responsibility; and (2) the characteristics of the strategic relationships that link the supply chain participants. On the demand side, regional supermarkets, restaurants, public and private institutional buyers, and individual consumers have demonstrated their eagerness to seek out and pay premiums for these types of high-quality food products that are delivered via trusted and transparent supply chains and characterized by their authentic farming stories. The set of case studies presented in this paper (three from each country) will highlight both the parallels and differences in the development of these innovative supply chains between two countries with quite dissimilar agricultural and food sector traditions and policies. Full article
Open AccessArticle Theorizing Agri-Food Economies
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 30; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030030
Received: 23 June 2016 / Revised: 13 July 2016 / Accepted: 15 July 2016 / Published: 22 July 2016
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Abstract
This paper discusses agri-food economies and how they evolve over time. It also analyses how these economies, which often have contradictory dynamics, are theorized. A central thesis of the paper is that different theoretical representations not only reflect the differences in agro-economies and
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This paper discusses agri-food economies and how they evolve over time. It also analyses how these economies, which often have contradictory dynamics, are theorized. A central thesis of the paper is that different theoretical representations not only reflect the differences in agro-economies and their developmental tendencies, but are also important drivers that actively shape the trajectories that they describe. The paper concludes by arguing that, more often than not, it is the newly emerging alternatives that are taking the initiative, responding to changing socio-economic demands while the hegemonic systems are merely reacting to the emerging alternatives. While it is possible that the alternatives might be appropriated and ‘conventionalized’ by the hegemonic systems, it is equally possible that the alternatives, especially when interconnected and rooted in democratic institutions, might induce a generalized crisis in the food systems that are currently dominant. Full article

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Open AccessReview Policies Supporting Local Food in the United States
Agriculture 2016, 6(3), 43; doi:10.3390/agriculture6030043
Received: 11 July 2016 / Revised: 19 August 2016 / Accepted: 26 August 2016 / Published: 31 August 2016
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Abstract
Local food has been the subject of federal, state, and local government policies in recent years throughout the United States as consumer demand has grown. Local foods have been linked to several government priorities—including enhancing the rural economy, the environment, and supporting agricultural
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Local food has been the subject of federal, state, and local government policies in recent years throughout the United States as consumer demand has grown. Local foods have been linked to several government priorities—including enhancing the rural economy, the environment, and supporting agricultural producers. This article provides an overview of U.S. Federal, State and regional policies designed to support local food systems. It details the latest economic information on policy, relying on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature. Federal policies related to local food systems were greatly expanded by the 2008 Farm Bill, and are further expanded in the Agricultural Act of 2014. United States policies address several barriers to the further expansion of local food markets, including scaling up output of small farms to address the needs of larger commercial outlets, lack of infrastructure for increasing local food sales, ability to trace product source, and producer education regarding local food expansion. Full article
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Theorizing Agri-Food Economies
Author: Jan Douwe Van der Ploeg
Affiliation: Department of Rural Sociology, Wageningen University, 6706 KN Wageningen, The Netherlands
Abstract: This paper discusses agri-food economies and how they evolve over time. It also analyses how these economies, which often have contradictory dynamics, are theorized. A central thesis of the paper is that different theoretical representations not only reflect the differences in agro-economies and their developmental tendencies – but are also at the same time important drivers that actively shape the trajectories that they describe. The paper concludes by arguing that, more often than not, it is the newly emerging alternatives that are taking the initiative, responding to changing socio-economic demands while the hegemonic systems are merely reacting to the emerging alternatives. While it is possible that the alternatives might be appropriated and ‘conventionalized’ by the hegemonic systems,  it is equally possible that the alternatives, especially when interconnected and rooted in democratic institutions, might induce a generalized crisis in the food  systems currently considered to be the dominant ones.

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