Wednesday, November 15, 2006 - 10:25 AM

Participatory Management and Stakeholder Involvement in Sustainable Agriculture Research.

Lennart Salomonsson1, Ulrika Geber1, Johanna Björklund1, Karin Svanäng1, Karin Eksvärd1, Kristina Belfrage1, and Charles Francis2. (1) Swedish Univ of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 7005, Uppsala SE-75007, Sweden, (2) Univ of Nebraska, 102B KCR, Agronomy & Horticulture Dept., Lincoln, NE 68583-0915

Sustainable agriculture expands the concept of farming from a single focus on food or fibre production to a multifunctional stewardship of rural landscapes that integrates production with enhancing ecosystem services. Conventional farm products are recognized in the marketplace, while many ecosystem services do not have a market. It is essential that society recognize rural landscape services and expand the willingness to pay for them. As part of the solution, different stakeholder groups such as those interested in environmental conservation and animal welfare need to establish strong claims on how agriculture should be done. Such concern and involvement often leads to state regulations and administrative control systems that are in conflict with the farmers immediate perspectives and interests. In response, farmers focus on the regulations, and how they should minimize the consequences, instead of focusing on the original problem that was raised. To expand our perspective toward a future multifunctional agriculture, a facilitated participatory process involving all stakeholders can be useful.  When this process is applied, our experience has demonstrated how the focus for the farmer can also be shifted to the common problems and potential solutions, instead of emphasis on regulations and how to avoid or comply with them. Further, we find that research projects for sustainable and multifunctional agricultural systems can be designed through broad participation, involving different stakeholders in the whole process from problem formulation to design of research, and from evaluation of results to seeking practical application. This paper presents three case studies of participatory research projects: (1) key ratios or qualitative indicators for biodiversity on the farm level, (2) organic greenhouse production of tomatoes in Sweden, and (3) developing incentive structures for production of ecosystem services at the farm level. Results show that participatory management can be an effective strategy for effective and practical development.