Spanish Journal of Rural Development

The Spanish Journal of Rural Development (SJRD) is a quarterly scientific journal published by the Galician Association of Researchers for Rural Development Asociación Gallega de Investigadores para el Desarrollo Rural (AGAIDERU).

Span. j. rural dev. is a multidisciplinary journal which publishes original research articles of practical application in the fields of forestry, agronomy, the environment, rural planning, international cooperation and socioeconomic issues. The overall focus is on the sustainable rural development of local populations, within identified Priority Lines

The journal also applies a policy of exchange with various scientific journals, at both national and international levels, and it is indexed in important scientific databases.


  • Introduction

    Editor SJRD

    The title of this issue of our Journal, “European realities. Asymmetric rural development and revalorization of marginal lands in Europe”, shows that the globalization has accentuated the rationalization process of the agro-food sector. The main response to this process is the emergence of a localized agriculture and rurality that entails the rise of a vast number of varied types of production, valorization and market innovations. One of these is the valorization of spaces with the introduction of new crops or valorization of previously marginalized spaces. In Europe this is a highly asymmetric process, as it is reflected in the articles of this issue.

    In this way, “Spanish Journal of Rural Development (SJRD)” continues to forge its destiny. "Fortunate is he whom the heavens gave a piece of bread, without obligation to thank another that the same sky" ("The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha" by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra).

  • Prologue

    Rytkönen P., Cristóvão A., Marescotti A.

    European realities. Asymmetric rural development and revalorization of marginal Lands in Europe

    Over time the European agro-food system has been subject to changes that profoundly affected the structure of firms and sectors, power relations, the quality of both processes and products, the patterns of consumption, and the way we perceive food.

    Following the big push towards industrialization, agricultural holdings have been nearly forced to adopt industrial production principles to survive, asking for an increase of resource productivity by means of scale economies, specialization, adoption of capital-intensive technologies, and standardization of the farming practices.

    Agricultural policies flanked this evolution, incorporating the basic principles of productivism in the design of policy tools to support European agriculture. All these forces caused a sharp decline in the number of farms, particularly affecting marginal and disadvantaged areas, with negative economic, social and environmental effects. The result has been a loss of productive activities in rural areas, services, selective depopulation of young people, and abandonment of peripheral areas, emphasizing the economic, social and territorial inequalities.

    More recently, the philosophy of productivism has been gradually substituted by a trend towards diversification and multifunctionality, thus delineating a new development paradigm based on product and process quality, new services provided by farms, re-localization of farmers-consumers relationships, respect for the environment, biodiversity and landscape, integration with other activities in rural areas.

    In Europe, much of this new trend has been directed by changes of consumers and society perceptions and needs that have been growingly incorporated into new agricultural practices and policies. The emerging paradigm, has favoured the emergence of localized agriculture and rurality that entails the rise of a vast number of varied various types of production, organization and market innovations.

    But responses have been highly asymmetric. Indeed, rurality in Europe discloses many different realities. There are territories with a highly rationalized agriculture with few remaining pockets of traditional agriculture, others with a large, heterogeneous and geographically spread agricultural sector, still others that proactively adapted to the reality of an EU membership, extracting the best of it and in which localized responses are a recent construction, and new EU members States from Eastern Europe that experienced two waves of change, one when socialism was replaced by capitalism and the other after the entrance to into the EU, leading to a fast wave of rationalization and disappearing rurality.

    As a consequence, rurality has splintered in many competing ruralities, making it increasingly difficult to identify a single coherent entity called the “countryside”, and rather shaping a new “differentiated countryside”.

    This special number of the Journal collects some papers issued on these themes. These papers were presentedwere presented at the biannual symposium of the International Farming Systems Association held in Aarhus, Denmark in 2012. The workshop was called “European realities – Asymmetric rural development and revalorization of marginal lands in Europe”.

    The papers in this special issue show the many aspects of the transition from productivism to multifunctionality, the efforts made by farmers and local production systems to cope with the globalization wave, and difficulties and failures in implementing new strategies, thus resulting in a sort of hybrid new rurality.

  • Comparative investigations between conventional agriculture and organic agriculture

    Álvarez, S.J., Gómez, M.A., Schwentesius, R.E.

    Two farming models are contrasted: organic and traditional. Of the investigations analyzed, we obtained the criteria, the conditions and the results in which both farming models were applied and compared, in order to gather enough elements to support the practice of one of these alternatives in spaces similar to those pointed out in investigations revised in this work. These contrasts are a result of conventional and organic practices performed in different conditions and that conclusively indicate the superiority of organic systems over conventional systems in terms of yield, environmental impact, soil restoration, resilience, recovering the knowledge of farmers, profitability, capability to produce in small areas and other aspects.

  • The role of traditional products in the valorisation of marginal rural areas: the case of Iris Pallida

    Belletti, G., Fani, E., Marescotti, A., Scaramuzzi, S.

    Nowadays the problem of valorisation of marginal rural areas in Europe is significant. In Italy some traditional agricultural crops with high added value may play an important role for the environmental preservation and social and economic development of some marginal rural areas. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the problems and potential of developing traditional crops in marginal rural areas, through their valorisation as typical products. Two main research questions are addressed: Are there specific problems for traditional products in marginal rural areas? In particular, is there a problem of loss of power and appropriation of value upstream the chain? The paper presents a case study analysis on the Iris Pallida supply chain. Iris Pallida is a minor crop, whose rhizome is used by the international fragrance industry. The fieldwork carried out has allowed to point out that the problem of power and appropriation is relevant and should be addressed by strengthening collective action and enhancing horizontal and vertical coordination. Specific problems in the role of traditional products in marginal rural areas also emerge. These are mainly connected to the structure of farms, to the conflicting strategies and to the access to information and technical support. The consequence is a higher need for coordination, for public support and for integrated rural development actions such us structural consolidation, research and development, marketing and tourism promotion.

  • Selling directly fresh and local products, looking at a new localized rurality: the case of PROVE Project in Portugal

    Baptista, A., Cristóvão, A., Rodrigo, I., Tibério, M.L., Vilas Boas, D.

    In Portugal, changes in the market of agricultural and food products have led to a huge concentration of supply in four large distributors, who represent about three-quarters of sales. This process excludes or hinders the access to the market of a large number of small-scale producers. These developments contribute greatly to the economic exclusion of small producers, the abandonment of agricultural areas, the decline in the number of farms, and the stagnation of the rural economy in many regions. The survival of these small producers and the revitalization of rural areas require innovative measures in several domains, looking at a new localized rurality. Organization and market access are fundamental. The Project PROVE, supported by the Portuguese Leader network, is a direct/proximity selling experience, through baskets of fresh fruits and vegetables, having as objectives: to support producers in the promotion and marketing of their products; to ensure the freshness and quality of the products; and to strengthen the ties between rural and urban communities. This paper presents the results of a study that analysed the contribution of this project to sustainable development and maintenance of local territorial dynamics. The information presented is the result of document analysis and questionnaire interviews to 56 producers in different regions of mainland Portugal. The results show that farmers increased the area and diversified the production, and improved marketing conditions and household income.

  • How can the land managers and his multi-stakeholder network at the farm level influence the multifunctional transitions pathways?

    Barroso, F., Menezes, H., Pinto-Correia, T.

    The changing role of agriculture is at the core of transition pathways in many rural areas. Productivism, post-productivism and multifunctionality have been targeted towards a possible conceptualization of the transition happening in rural areas. The factors of change, including productivist and post-productivist trends, are combined in various ways and have gone in quite diverse directions and intensities, in individual regions and localities. Even, in the same holding, productivist and post-productivist strategies can coexist spatially, temporally, structurally, leading to a higher complexity in changing patterns. In south Portugal extensive landscapes, dominated by traditionally managed agro-forestry systems under a fuzzy land use pattern, multifunctionality at the farm level is indeed conducted by different stakeholders whose interests may or not converge: a multifunctional land management may indeed incorporate post-productivist and productivist agents. These stakeholders act under different levels of decision, management and use, reflecting a particular land management dynamic, in which different interests may exist, from commercial production to a variety of other functions (hunting, bee-keeping, subsistence farming, etc.), influencing management at the farm level and its supposed transition trajectory. This multi-stakeholder dynamic is composed by a main land-manager (the one who takes the main decisions), secondary land-managers (land-managers under the rules of the main land-manager), workers and users (locals or outsiders), as also hybrid situations can occur. Each of these can influence the land management in different ways as their interest and action within the holding may vary differently and therefore reflect more or less multifunctional systems, and also a different situation in a spectrum that goes from productivism to postproductivism. The goal of the proposed presentation is to show the evidence of productivist and non-productivist strategies linked with multifunctional transitions in place, which are the land managers types in place, their attitudes and behaviors and how each of the land manager types behave regarding the multi-stakeholders network but also to describe the multi-stakeholder relations at the farm level and the consequences regarding multifunctional transitions happening in place.

  • Farm innovation in rural areas: do rural districts make the difference?

    Chiappini, S., De Rosa, M.

    The recognition of rural and agro-food districts in Italy, according to the Italian law n. 228/01, has stimulated regions to identify rural areas with similar characteristics. The paper analyses the capability of a rural district to innovate and, particularly, in-district farms’ attitude to change. For this purpose, an empirical analysis will be proposed, by comparing two groups of farms: the first group is located within a rural districts; the second group operates outside the rural district, but in areas with the same degree of rurality. To investigate farms’ propensity to innovate, an innovative milieus approach is proposed. The application of this method requires the understanding of the three paradigms: organizational, technological and territorial. Our results evidence a “territorial indifference” in introducing change in farm activity and discuss possible normative implications.

  • Kalixlöjrom–an institutional analysis of the application and implementation of Sweden's first PDO

    Bonow, M., Rytkönen, P.

    The use and implementation of Geographical Indications (GI) is a well established practice in most EU countries. Previous studies show that the use of PDOs and PGIs is directly related to previous experiences as well as the relative importance of the agro-food sector in a country's economy. In the case of Sweden, the agro-food sector has been oriented towards continuous structural rationalization since at least the 1930's. However, the transformation pressure exerted by a rising competitive level in the market, that emanates both from global as well as regional European sources led to the adoption of new strategies. These strategies entail the on-farm elaboration of farm produce, the diversification of activities as well as the use of certification schemes. In the case of Kalixlöjrom, the strategy selected was the adoption of a PDO, as a way of entering a valorisation process for export purposes as well as defending the product against dislojal competition of products with less quality. As this is the first experience with a PDO in Sweden, the case of Kalixlöjrom caviar offers a rare opportunity to understand the actual problems in implementing a policy tool developed by Southern European countries in a country like Sweden. Thus the article highlights the institutional and structural shortcomings discovered in this process and offers new knowledge and reflections valuable for the future adaptation and implementation of previously unknown policy instruments.

  • Small family farms in Romania: How to valorise their goods and services?

    Barjolle, D., Ghib, M.L., Larkham, K.

    During the first programming period of the Common agricultural policy (CAP), a vast majority of policy tools (belonging to first and second pillar of the CAP, Natura 2000) were not implemented in Romania, because of the difficulties to implement them. This paper discusses the pro and contra arguments for the extending the single payment scheme in the new CAP (2014-2020), and especially for the small farms. We investigate the functioning of a rural community located in a remote mountainous area, and discuss whether the current farming system, based on very small farms, produce not only agricultural goods, but at same time many positive externalities like extreme rich biodiversity and social stability. Indeed, if the traditional, extensive but very small scale farming systems would decline in the future, current highly performing environmental services would decline in parallel. At the same time, social inclusion will decline as well, as there is currently no alternative for the family farms to find sufficient sources of incomes neither in Romania nor in Europe. Therefore, the single payment scheme may have positive impacts not only for the security of incomes of the farms, but as well for the social welfare of the rural communities and for the preservation of highvalue biodiversity in this area.

  • Sweden – an emerging wine country – a case of innovation in the context of the “new rurality”

    Rytkönen, P.

    This article highlights the articulation of the new rurality in Sweden, exemplified by the emergence of the wine sector. Wine production became possible as a result of climate change and Sweden’s EU membership that led to the abolishment of the production and wholesale monopoly. Even though wine production is an old activity in other countries, in Sweden, the establishment of wine production is an innovation and as such a reflection of rural entrepreneurship. But not everything is a saga of success. The case study shows that there are still important constraints against the further development of the sector, in this case due to path dependency in agricultural and alcohol policy and current Swedish alcohol regulations. Some additional obstacles are the prohibition against gate sales and the inability of farms to meet the scale demands imposed by the public retail monopoly.