The shift to industrial agriculture in Europe brought along a range of environmental and social externalities. This led policy makers, researchers and civil servants to consider and explore the potential of diversified farming systems (DFS) to address current problems in agriculture. However, because of multiple obstacles adoption of these DFS by farmers is not obvious. In this study we investigate the case of agroforestry (AF) systems in Flanders, where a government incentive scheme initiated in 2011, did not lead to the expected uptake of AF systems by farmers. To understand this implementation gap and the role of the different relevant actors herein, we used the Agricultural Innovation System concept ensuring an integrative and holistic analysis. Through 25 interviews, 2 focus groups and document analysis, a set of qualitative data was gathered and analyzed. This revealed five sets of challenges, which are of a technical, financial, legal, organizational and social nature. For each of these challenges development pathways were formulated to further upscale AF adoption. Although they should be substantiated and fine-tuned through further research, they put forward the importance of (1) investing in research to improve the compatibility and labor productivity of AF systems, (2) engaging private and societal actors in niche markets for agroecological products, (3) developing a full-fledged legal landscape and an effective incentive program, (4) using different communication and education channels to familiarize actors with agroecological practices, and (5) strengthening the dialogue between influential groups.
Agricultural Systems – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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