Multifunctional Agriculture, Quality of Life and Policy Decisions: an Empirical Case

The TOP-MARD research project (Toward a Policy Model of Multifunctional Agriculture and Rural Development), that will be here described in its Italian version, links farmers’ behaviour with their economic, social and environmental effects, showing the difference between a behaviour guided by market profitability only and one guided by the interest of a broader social group. It was financed by EU in 11 European countries, and it took place in 2006-2008. The TOP-MARD research defined a 10-modules model (POMMARD), that links use of land and production techniques to several dimensions of a context (quantitative and qualitative, from economic to social and environmental) and to the quality of life of its population. STELLA, a Systems Thinking software, has been used in order to develop the POMMARD model. The POMMARD model is partially supply-driven with demand constraints: land use and its dynamics produce a mix of marketable and non-marketable goods, that impact other sectors and the territory through an I-O or a SAM, and through the consequences of their production on the quality of life. Labour requirements and demography can produce – therefore – immigration, and contribute to job creation and dynamics. Public intervention influences local resources and human behaviour. Farmers can choose their style of production and land use, that are the “key drivers” of change: when land is converted from a land use to another or from a conventional to a non-conventional style of production, there occurs a change in the vector of inputs (means of production and workers) and in the vector of outputs, that also comprehends public goods. Provision of public goods increases the quality of life. Rural areas become therefore more attractive to younger generations, encouraging them to stay rather than migrate, and attracting new-comers. Tourism can also be influenced by the attractiveness of the area, which can contribute further income, within the limits of tourism capacity and seasonality. Starting from the actual systematic links, the model considers the main variables (population, income, …) under different policy scenarios: providing suggestions to policy makers about the possible effects of exogenous shocks, such as policy measures, on rural development and quality of life.

Issue Date:
Oct 27 2010
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
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