Accelerating the Transition to Organic Farming
Eijnden, Mart van den
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Modern society is facing an increasing number of societal problems. There is a growing consensus that innovation and its policies should focus on solving concrete and pressing societal problems. In order to initiate this kind of transformative change, clearly defined missions are formulated, labelled as Mission-oriented Innovation Policy (MIP). Although promising, missions remain understudied in practice. Therefore scholar introduced the Mission-oriented Innovation System (MIS) framework. The mission addressed in this thesis is the mission initiated by the province of Noord-Brabant to have 15% organic agricultural land by 2030 in Noord-Brabant. Since there are different forms of agriculture, each with their own problems and challenges, this study is demarcated on organic horticulture and arable farming. In order to analyse this mission, the five-step structural-functional approach as introduced by Wesseling & Mijerhof (2021) for studying a MIS has been applied. A combination of desk research, expert consultation, and 24 semi-structured expert interviews provided data for these five steps. The analysis resulted in a multitude of identified barriers related to weakly fulfilled system functions. From these barriers, two networks of interrelated barriers were identified with the most pressing systemic problems. These revolve around the low demand for organic products and the low number of farmers transitioning to organic farming. Thereafter the ongoing or planned mission governance actions were identified that aim to address (some) of these barriers. As for the low demand for organic products, the (planned) mission governance actions do not seem sufficient to overcome the barriers. Therefore, given that resources of the mission arena are limited, various governance actions have been proposed to overcome the identified barriers. One of those recommendations is to draw up a covenant with leading parties in the retail sector to make them jointly responsible and the problem owner for increasing the sales of organic products. In such a covenant, agreements can also be made to partially tackle other identified problems. Regarding the low number of farmers that transition to organic, many of the planned actions seem sufficient for now and should only be reconsidered when the demand for organic products increases. For example, one of the planned actions is a transition fund to help farmers finance the transition. However, it is important to examine whether there is sufficient demand for the products in the markets in which these farmers operate. Otherwise, there is a risk that farmers will be encouraged to grow crops for markets for which there is no demand.