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Innovation, diversification and European agricultural situations (IDEAS)

Contract nr: FAIR-CT98-4228
Project nr: 4228
Project type: SC
Starting date: 01/05/1999
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 1,139,663 EUR
EC Contribution: 1,139,663 EUR
Scientific Officer: Veronica SABBAG
Research topic: Development of complementary on-farm activities
Acronym: IDEAS

The development of on-farm complementary activities is now recognised as a necessity for the long-term viability and survival of EU farm businesses (CEC, 1997a). Innovative ideas mobilised by entrepreneurial farmers are a central component of this development obligation. Innovative agricultural diversification can moreover significantly improve the prospects for sustained economic performance in the EU's rural regions, where currently almost one-third of all farmers are under-employed (CEC, 1 997a).

IDEAS has therefore three research objectives:
1. To identify dynamic examples of innovative, significant on-farm diversification in four EU regions (Vasterbotten in Sweden, Languedoc-Roussillon in France, Catalonia in Spain, and Lincolnshire in the UK) with emphasis on employment-opportunity creation;
2. In each of these study regions to analyse how innovative forms of diversification in specific localities are incorporated within the raft of existing on-farm activities;
3. To evaluate how innovative forms of diversification have been sustained in the study regions, and in particular, how local/regional institutions and key political actors have interfaced with farmers in their support of innovative on-farm diversification.

IDEAS' objectives conform closely to the priorities of the European Commission in the FAIR Programme, since they intrinsically link the development of complementary on-farm activities to the on-going processes of social and economic transformation confronting EU rural areas. The research will be co-ordinated and carried out by leading specialists in rural policy from the European research community. The selection of farming regions in sub-arctic, temperate and Mediterranean Europe for empirical analysis explicitly recognises the considerable variety of conditions under which farming is carried out in the EU-15, and the consequent need for EU and national agricultural diversification policy to be sensitive to such local situations. IDEAS is primarily concerned with how farm businesses and institutional agencies sustain innovative diversification practice through harnessing entrepreneurial activity in specific localities. Using detailed farm surveys, intensive case histories of the innovative diversification experience of selected farm households, and critical questioning of local and regional policy-makers responsible for diversification, IDEAS will: clarify understanding of how innovative on-farm diversification has become a significant economic activity within the context of four EU localities; show how entrepreneurial farmers and agencies have used innovatively significant on-farm diversification to improve the economic fortunes of farm businesses and consequently their prospects for sustained growth; and demonstrate the involvement of local institutions in supporting these activities through the removal of obstacles and barriers to the implementation of successful diversification. IDEAS will therefore not only address contemporary scientific debates over agricultural sustainability, but will also contribute significantly to the political dialogue led by the European Commission on the future of EU rural areas under a reformed CAP.

Current situation/results:
Six-month report submitted to the EU

University College London
Department of Geography
Bedford Way 26
UK-WC1H 0AP London
Tel.: +44 1715 04 55 07
Fax: +44 1713 80 75 65


  • Jacques BLANCHET
    Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
    Rue de l'université 147
    F-75338 Paris
    Tel.: +33 1 30 81 53 32
    Fax: +33 1 30 81 53 68

    Fundacio Empresa i Ciencia
    Campus de Bellaterra
    Edifici Rectorat
    E-08193 Bellaterra-Barcelona
    Tel.: +34 93 581 22 26
    Fax: +34 93 581 22 92

  • Ulf WIBERG
    Centre for Regional Science
    S-901 87 Umeaa
    Tel.: +46 907 86 55 37
    Fax: +46 907 86 63 59
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