The Agroecological Approach as a Model for Multifunctional Agriculture and Farming towards the European Green Deal 2030—Some Evidence from the Italian Experience

Giuseppe Gargano, Francesco Licciardo, Milena Verrascina, Barbara Zanetti
2021 Sustainability  
Agroecology can be considered an approach to farming and food systems which integrates the use of ecological principles and biological cycles methods of the traditional systems to the design and management of sustainable agriculture. Despite some differences mainly due to specific national developments on the topic, today there is a substantial convergence in the belief that the term agroecology reconciles three dimensions: scientific discipline, social movement, cultural practice. Beyond the
more » ... ep-rooted French experience, at the level of the European Union (EU) there is no clear strategy for agroecological practices and action plans. In the Italian case, a first step forward, especially in terms of initiatives, was taken following the universal exhibition "EXPO 2015 Milan" while with respect to the promotion of agroecological practices, some positive feedback is ascribable to the experience of the Bio-districts. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the model adopted by the Italian multifunctional farms can be considered precursory with respect to the approach that, from a theoretical point of view, identifies agroecology. The Italian system on farms diversification would seem to show it has somehow anticipated the new European Green Deal strategy for the next ten years due to the simultaneous presence of key elements that concern not only agricultural practice but also ethical and social aspects by involving farmers and communities that insist on the territory. Green Deal and Farm to Fork strategies recognize a new and important role for the agriculture and agri-food sectors and to invite farmers to engage consumers' interest. The study also considers some characteristics of the farmers, such as the level of education and the economic sector in which they were employed before devoting themselves to the agritourism business but also the ability to develop multi-actor and multi-level networks. The analysis of these determinants would allow them to place different professional skills at the service of the primary sector that tend to positively influence the organization and farm performance. At the same time, the farmers' skills are influenced by different sectors of activity such as participation in research projects or even in local initiatives with public and private actors. This allows the agroecological approach to be put into practice in a conscious (or unconscious) way.
doi:10.3390/su13042215 fatcat:6ftaffp3t5a6re5ujif6oxy6ka