The focus region Friuli Venezia Giulia (specifically Udine province, ITD42) has been chosen as an example of small and geo-morphologically variegated area, where the agricultural sector is very advanced for certain sectors (viticulture) while arable systems, even with some very high productivity, suffer for structural limitations and the lack of organized processing in the region.
The conformation of the landscapes and the conservative mindset that is characteristic of the rural economy also due to the limited share of young farmers, influenced the business setting of agriculture in the area. The average agricultural enterprise is familiar and small-medium scale, with an average utilized area of about 10ha per farm, even if larger and innovative farms are more and more frequent. In this context, the interest for social innovation in agriculture is consistently growing.
The collective marketing case in Focus Region has been selected as it was recently developed as an answer to the need of farmers on one side, who look for better placement of their organic products through direct contact and building of relationships with consumers and, on the other hand, to the request of consumers for a deep knowledge and relationship with the farmers who supply their food. Moreover, this system is aimed to facilitate the logistics and consequently enable products supply to be constant and continuative and not driven by occasional purchase of customers, as it is often the case for buyers’ groups or farm-gate markets.
Access to independent and affordable advisory systems for small diversified organic farms in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region (Italy) is very limited. One of the few organisations that has tried to close this gap is the regional branch of AIAB (Italian Association for Organic Agriculture); it has done so by developing a network aimed to offer continuous support to farmers, based on peer-to-peer support.
AIAB established a system for collective direct marketing of local organic products to help farms build a solid customer base and at the same time create a community where actors are co-responsible for the sustainability of the local food systems. This social innovation was a pioneering work that drew knowledge and resources from farmers and other members of the organisation, but relied also on non-agricultural actors on topics such as legal and fiscal management.
The system, which involves 45 farmers, relies on an online platform for gathering orders, and on four locations for product distribution. The system aims at facilitating farmers’ access to market, but it also has a strong positive side effect: it contributes to strengthening the network of farmers and consequently to amplifying the effects of the peer-to-peer support system. This highlights the importance of social innovations in supporting peer networks, especially in instances when an independent advisory system is lacking.
Full report is available here.
Vinidea srl (VIN) is a micro-enterprise founded in 1999 that provides information transfer and innovation brokerage for the wine industry. VIN looks for scientific and practical news from all over the world and then makes it available to agronomists and enologists. They make full and effective use of all available tools to promote the sharing of information among the different categories of wine specialists: from classic conferences to webinars and internet tools, study trips, written articles, audiovideos, translations from and into different languages and surveys. VIN is publisher of the journal Infowine (Internet Journal of Enology and Viticulture) which is available in 6 languages and read by 40,000 wine professionals worldwide.