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Is the Commercialization of Wild Plants by Organic Producers in Austria Neglected or Irrelevant?
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Conceptualising the Factors that Influence the Commercialisation of Non-Timber Forest Products: The Case of Wild Plant Gathering by Organic Herb Farmers in South Tyrol (Italy)

Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), Gregor-Mendel-Strasse 33, 1180 Wien, Austria
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Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 2028; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11072028
Received: 5 February 2019 / Revised: 20 March 2019 / Accepted: 1 April 2019 / Published: 5 April 2019
The gathering and commercialisation of non-timber forest products (NTFP) in Europe has repeatedly been praised for its potential to support rural development. However, political support mechanisms explicitly targeting NTFP remain underdeveloped. In this study, we aimed to contribute to the design of support mechanisms by understanding the factors that influence the commercialisation of wild plants by organic farmers. We first developed a conceptual framework based on fifteen factors and then applied the framework to a case study in South Tyrol (Alto Adige), Italy. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with all fourteen members of the Vereinigung Südtiroler Kräuteranbauer (Associazione Coltivatori Sudtirolesi Piante Officinali), who commercialised wild plant species, and the data were then analysed using qualitative content analysis. Agricultural intensification, pesticide drift, limited access to gathering sites suitable for organic certification, legal restrictions, lack of consumer awareness about the additional value of organic wild plant certification, and limited product diversity were perceived as limiting factors; management techniques in organic farming, organic certification, a trend for wild, regional and healthy foods, the availability of training, and favourable cultural values and attitudes towards wild plant gathering were perceived as supportive. This study offers a comprehensive understanding of the many diverse factors that may influence wild plant commercialisation in Europe and beyond and provides guidance on how political support mechanisms could unlock the much heralded potential of wild plant commercialisation for rural development. View Full-Text
Keywords: ethnobotany; foraging; health foods; medicinal and aromatic plants; organic agriculture; organic consumer; policy; traditional knowledge; wild food; wild herbs ethnobotany; foraging; health foods; medicinal and aromatic plants; organic agriculture; organic consumer; policy; traditional knowledge; wild food; wild herbs
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Schunko, C.; Lechthaler, S.; Vogl, C.R. Conceptualising the Factors that Influence the Commercialisation of Non-Timber Forest Products: The Case of Wild Plant Gathering by Organic Herb Farmers in South Tyrol (Italy). Sustainability 2019, 11, 2028.

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