AgriLink The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: direct marketing. - AgriLink

The role of advisory services in farmers’ decision making for innovation uptake: direct marketing.

Latvia, Pierīga
Region

The Pierīga region is located in the central part of Latvia and is a predominantly urban region surrounding the capital city of Latvia (Rīga), which gives farmers access to an area with a higher density of customers with higher purchasing power. Strong interaction between Rīga and surrounding Pierīga region territories – in terms of flows of people and human resources, goods including food products, capital – forms the backbone of Pierīga’s business environment. It has good infrastructure and, consequently, access to both the capital and many regional market towns. This has enabled many farmers to start practicing direct selling.

Region map.

The region is internally heterogeneous in terms or socio-economic and agro-environmental conditions. In general, agriculture plays a comparatively small role in the regional economy of Pierīga. In 2017, the share of value added by agriculture, forestry and fishing made up 3.66 % among all kinds of economic activity in the region, making it the second smallest in Latvia after the Rīga region. In 2016 the agricultural land made up 26% of all the land area in the region. The main branches in the regional agriculture are cereals and dairy farming, and pig breeding. The total number of farms in 2016 was 9037 (12.9% of all farms in Latvia), with an average size of utilised agricultural area (UAA) per farm reaching 28 ha. Furthermore, in 2016 Pierīga had the smallest regular labour force in agriculture (21.5 th – 13% from the total number in Latvia) among the Latvia’s regions outside the capital city.

Study focus

The case study explores direct marketing in its multiple forms in the Pierīga region of Latvia to determine the diversity and roles of agricultural advisors in farmers’ decision-making in becoming aware of, considering and implementing this innovation on their farms.

Farmers’ markets and other forms of direct marketing – selling products without mediation – are a major distribution channel for small farmers and food processors in Latvia.  This way of reaching consumers shows signs of retro-innovation. It involves a mix of old knowledge and skills but also requires a constant influx of new insights and techniques that allow farmers to adapt to changing circumstances and make use of recent developments. There are many factors that contribute to a successful uptake of innovations, and the availability of advice from various sources is an important part of the process.

Full report is available here.

Partner and responsible person contact

Baltic Studies Centre

Emils Kilis, emils.kilis@gmail.com

Baltic Studies Centre (BSC) has vast research and action-oriented experience with issues related to food system and food supply chain analysis; food and nutrition security; agricultural knowledge and innovation systems; agricultural and rural development processes and policies; social, economic and political solutions for sustainable development. Research involving farmers has been carried out by the BSC team in several regions of Latvia, including Pierīga, which has been the focus region in another project on small farms (SALSA, 2016-2020), with specific locations of the region (Tukums) focused on also in a project on urban-rural linkages (ROBUST, 2017-2021). In terms of the innovation area, direct marketing is a topic addressed by BSC in several projects on stainable food provisioning (SUPURBFOOD, 2012-2015; SINFO, 2018-2021).

Lessons learned
1 Combining old and new knowledge.
Direct marketing in Latvia represents a continuously evolving practice, combining old and new knowledge. It involves a broad spectrum of market, organisational and technological innovations, use of e-commerce, logistics and other services.
2 Traditional advisory organisations are considerably less significant.
The case study shows that the success of this practice is contingent upon a productive application of knowledge that is obtained both formally (e.g. from advisory organisations) and informally (e.g. via peer-to-peer learning). Yet, in this domain traditional advisory organisations are considerably less significant than in ones relating to more technical aspects of agricultural production.
3 Advisory lanscape varies.
The role of advisory organisations is more prominent in relation to general farming and management issues, while peer-to-peer and other informal learning practices such as consulting with relatives are more important in the context of assessing and implementing direct marketing.
4 Important factors for stimulating the uptake of new trading forms.
Familiarity with successful examples, appropriate material and infrastructural conditions, use of social networks, and familiarity with the practice as such are also important factors for stimulating the uptake of new trading forms in short food supply chains (incl. online sales, direct purchasing groups).
5 A mix of knowledge and skills.
The practice of direct marketing involves a mix of knowledge and skills that depends on local synergies between social ties and advisory resources, allowing it to evolve despite limited institutional support.

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