Middle-size farms already grow a diverse set of crops, so an ability to grow a number of crops already exists, but there is a tendency to reduce the number of crops to manage mechanization, marketing, and others. Some farmers are keen to increase diversity again and look for solutions. For this aim growers will be grouped together to identify agronomic and economic constraints and solutions.
What are the main problems underlying the emergence of the case study?
It is assumed that diversification is under threat, even if this should be a principle in organic farming, given its potential role in decreasing pest pressure and managing soil fertility.
There is a strong tendency among the larger arable farmers to organize themselves. However, in the last few years, smaller farms have tended to pool together and get organized, too. A common sense of shared problems is emerging. Bionext can facilitate the increasing awareness to identify ways out jointly.
How is the problem addressed and which actors are involved?
Middle-sized farms already grow a diverse set of crops, so an ability to grow a number of crops already exists, but there is a tendency to reduce the number of crops so as to manage mechanization, marketing, and other areas. Some farmers are keen to increase diversity again and look for solutions. For this purpose, growers will be grouped together to identify agronomic and economic constraints and solutions.
Bionext initiated the project, stimulated by two vegetable growers who were willing to participate. Researchers from WUR support the case study with scientific know-how. The target group involves eight to ten big and small farmers, having frequent interactions on regulatory and political issues and less frequent contact and less structured interaction with Bionext respectively.
The case study seeks to find solutions for (organic) vegetable growers capable of maintaining a high diversity and possibly as a next step to increase it as stakeholders acknowledged that there are no easy solutions. The main focus for the case study will be the farmers: if they pinpoint the creation of a suitable market as the main issue, then buyers will be more proactively involved.
The goal of the case study is to share progress and possible solutions.
The vegetable growers will finally be better able to maintain a high number of crops through better marketing and/or better farm management.
- Marian Blom, Bionext, case study leader
- Yvonne Cuijpers, WUR, case study monitor