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Rural development PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 08:06

Farm house Increasing consumer demand for organic food has created many opportunities for all parts of the food supply chain, which has contributed to a corresponding increase in the economic and social development of many rural areas of the EU.

Annual market growth for organic products is between 10-15%.

As well as providing more financial security for organic farmers, processors, distributors and retailers, the economic benefits of this trend will inevitably trickle down to other rural businesses and the wider rural community – both directly and indirectly.


The very nature of organic farming means that it contributes to creating job opportunities, large rural populations and rural wealth. Factors contributing to this include:

    * Organic farms tend to be smaller and more diversified than non-organic farms, which by comparison tend on the whole to be larger and more intensive managed
    * The often high labour intensiveness created by restrictions on inputs and emphasis on physical and mechanical production
    * High compatibility of organic farms to rural and eco-tourism ventures
    * New areas of research (plant protection, animal welfare, renewable resources) for scientists

Organic farmers are also more likely to experience health benefits from not having to work with chemicals such as pesticides. Organic farmers also report gaining the respect of consumers as more and more people find out about the environmental, animal welfare and socio-economic benefits of organic production.


Organic farming creates more attractive natural landscapes through its focus on:

    * Planting hedges and meadows
    * Retaining native flora and fauna
    * Protecting and enhancing water and soil resources
    * Using native plant and animal species and resources

In turn, these practices increase the overall attractiveness of rural areas, making them more likely to lure and retain inhabitants at a time when rural populations are dwindling throughout the EU.

Supply chain

Organic farming can also contribute to the greater involvement of rural communities in the food supply chain. This is due to:

    * The use of varied market channels – for example, farm gate sales, farm shops and farmers’ markets and internet-based delivery schemes
    * New and varied marketing opportunities
    * The preference for shorter transportation distances to market

In fact, members of the organic supply chain are often actively involved in more than one of these links. Farmers take great pride and emotional interest in their organic products and often participate in their processing and marketing side of things as well.

This often means that farmers can speak directly to consumers about the products that they are buying, helping them to understand exactly how the food has been produced and the wide-ranging benefits of a more sustainable approach to food production. In this manner, they raise awareness among consumers and advise them on the implications of the food and drink they consume.


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Last Updated on Monday, 29 June 2009 13:04

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