WP4 – Socio-Economic Aspects of Organic Breeding and Seed Production
The challenge: Addressing socio-economic barriers to boost the competitiveness of the organic seed sector
Evaluations of the organic farming and seed regulatory frameworks concluded that the current regulatory system did not lead to significant improvements in the supply of organic seeds at the EU level (Döring et al., 2012; Padel et al., 2014). This is underlined by a survey carried out as part of the SOLIBAM project that confirmed that the type of market significantly influences producers’ choice of seeds and varieties.
Research has shown that the type of market also significantly influences producers’ choice of seeds and varieties, and it is necessary to investigate the range of economic and social factors influencing the use of organic versus non-organic seed from a market point of view, to analyse business and governance models and to explore financial incentives that might boost the organic seed sector. Some countries such as France, Denmark and Switzerland were able to develop a supply of organic seeds that meets national needs for some species. But for other crops, it appears that only few new suitable varieties for organic agriculture are available and the small organic breeding sector is not fully able to fill this gap for all crops that are presently grown on organic farms across the EU. In addition, there is a strong informal seed sector that aims to address the issue through participatory breeding models that increase diversity of seeds available, often using not-for-profit business models. Finally, organic seeds are more expensive than non-treated conventional seeds, creating an adverse incentive to use or develop organic seed production. It is therefore necessary to better understand a range of economic and social factors and business and governance models influencing the use of organic seed.
LIVESEED will map the normative values of stakeholders, covering both the requirement for use of organic seed, including the direct utility for farmers and for other market players in the different sectors and explore the impact of potential measures to improve the market and the regulatory arrangements. It will analyse the socio-economic aspect of organic seed markets, supply chains and business models to understand the reasons for market failure on organic seed markets and identify ways to overcome it, by describing and modelling the decision-making behaviour of operators connected either directly or indirectly to organic seed markets, including organic and conventional breeders, seed producers, farmers, food producers, traders and consumers. It will assess consumer preferences and acceptance of new breeding techniques and factors influencing the behavioural intentions, choices and their level of acceptance. The project’s approach will lead to well-grounded recommendations for market players and policy makers to design business and governance models.
- D4.1 Report on the relative importance of different factors encouraging farmers to use/ not use organic seed in organic supply chains
- D4.2 Report describing three crop case studies investigating in detail the socio-economic factors influencing the behaviour of various stakeholders regarding the use of organic seed