Synthesis Documents

How can 'organic' and 'regional' accelerate development in poorer areas?

    As consumers’ interest for quality food grows, new opportunities arise for both organic and regional products. This is especially appealing for rural areas with a strong agricultural tradition. Yet, to be successful, such initiatives require a sound methodological approach to analyse well the context and opportunities together with different stakeholders and develop a marketing strategy that overcomes both market- and supply-oriented constraints. This paper presents and discusses two different approaches to integrate farmers into value chains, both used as part of a development project in Albania. By comparing these two approaches, we argue that in most cases well-facilitated market oriented approaches (Demand Pull) are more efficient in enhancing the competitiveness of rural areas and thus create sustainable improvements especially for small-scale producers. Nevertheless, where farmer associations and small-scale processing structures are missing, complementary production oriented approaches (Production Push) are essential to create a solid organisational basis to aggregate produce and lower transaction costs for buying agents. This is especially relevant in an earlier stage of organic sector development, where both farmers and processors need to make additional investments to shift towards organic production. Where such a shift towards organic is difficult, more simple marketing schemes focusing on heritage might be a first interesting step into the direction to introduce product certification schemes. Independent if products are sold and promoted as “organic” or “regional”, the success of such initiatives crucially depends on two factors: (1) good process facilitation to optimally involve different sector stakeholders, and (2) the development of a sound marketing concept with excellent implemented visuals (i.e. logo, product labels, promotion material etc).