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Agriculture - Planting the seeds for sustainable farming and forestry
“Towards renewed entrepreneurialism among Europe’s farmers”

The problem

The common agricultural policy is moving from a system of price support to direct payments to farmers. Complementing this shift, farmers are expected not only to produce food and fibre but also to contribute actively to sustainable rural development. This policy shift enables farmers to be more proactive in running their business rather than reacting to state guidance on farming policy. To maximise the benefits of these opportunities farmers must strengthen their managerial, entrepreneurial and business skills.

ESoF  Stimulating entrepreneurialism among farmers


ESoF will examine the economic, social and cultural factors affecting the development of the entrepreneurial skills of farmers.

  • A series of case studies, in partnership with farmers, will analyse the technical and socio-economic constraints that influence farmers’ entrepreneurial strategies.
  • A formal framework will be developed to enable farmers to undertake self-analysis, as well as provide decision-makers with an informed basis for providing development advice.

Contribution to policy development:

  • EsoF will inform policy-makers’ discussions on the factors that influence farmers’ entrepreneurial enterprise and the effect that policy decisions have on farmers.
  • The project will identify potential policy directions that can influence farmers’ progress towards achieving the broad objectives of the CAP.
  • The analytical assessment method developed by EsoF will enable policy proposals to be tested and potential results forecast before decisions are made.
  • The project will help identify attitudes and examples of good practice that can be promoted as a means to achieving the broad objectives of the CAP.

Project deliverables

  • Report: relevance of enterprise in agriculture – August 2005
  • Report: national empirical exploration – June 2006
  • Report: criteria and hypothesis for understanding entrepreneurial culture – June 2006
  • Report: methodology for assessing entrepreneurial capability – June 2007
  • Report: case-study results, comparative overview, and conclusions – August 2007
  • Report: Stimulating the entrepreneurial skills of farmers – April 2008
  • Web-based diagnostic, self-analysis system for farmers – April 2008
  • Final report – April 2008


  • Website launch – May 2006
  • Members of the farming community will be actively involved and encouraged to promote the project and its findings – ongoing
  • Two project workshops for the farming community and other interest groups
  • Project partners will promote the programme at various events and prepare articles for popular and trade press – as necessary

Technical information

Project acronym: EsoF
Project’s official full title: Developing the entrepreneurial skills of farmers
Research priority: 1.1. Modernisation and sustainability of agriculture and forestry, including their multifunctional role in order to ensure the sustainable development and promotion of rural areas
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 006500
Start date: 1 April 2005
Kick off meeting: April 2005
Completion date: April 2008
European Commission scientific officer: Hans-Jorg Lutzeyer,

Christine Rudmann
Name: Research Institute of Organic Agriculture
Abbreviated name: FiBL
Address: Ackerstrasse
CH-5070 Frick
Country: Switzerland
Tel: +41 62 865-7215
Fax: +41 62 865-7273


Name: University of Lincoln
Abbreviated name: UL
Country: United Kingdom

Name: University of Helsinki 
Abbreviated name: UHEL
Country: Finland 

Name:  Applied Plant Research, Lelystad
Abbreviated name: PPO
Country: Netherlands

Name: Research Institute for Pomology and Horticulture, Skierniewice
Abbreviated name: RIPF
Country: Poland

Name: University of Cardiff
Abbreviated name: UWC
Country: United Kingdom