Biodiversity in Tuscany: Strengthening the custodian farmer’s role

Biodiversity in Tuscany: Strengthening the custodian farmer’s role

On April 23, 2021, the University of Pisa organized a discussion about the “Strategy for an evolution of Custodian farmers’ role” in the Tuscany Region to protect regional genetic resources from extinction – an important pillar for protecting crop and species biodiversity. Our researchers Francesco Riccioli and Roberta Moruzzo, with the help of their action partner representative Cinzia Lenzarini, presented the current situation of custodian farmers in Tuscany and discussed strategies to improve the role of these farmers in the Rural Development Plan.

The in situ conservation of genetic resources at risk of extinction is a critical pillar for preserving the biodiversity of regional crops and species. As previous successful experiences (e.g., Aglione (garlic) della Chiana, Farro (emmer) della Garfagnana) lead the way, the next step for Garfagnana will be to start the valorization of the farmers’ efforts through the activation of a value chain specializing on regional crops and species. Remuneration of the extra effort will help to keep the local knowledge, traditions and methods alive. Protection by utilizing!

Collective grazing contracts in the Pyrénées’ highlands

Collective grazing contracts in the Pyrénées’ highlands

On April 16, 2021, our Contract Innovation Lab (CIL) and Policy Innovation Lab (PIL) in the French Pyrenees concluded the first round of workshops to find a shared vision for feasible contracts (“dream contract”) for collective grazing in the Occitane region. Researchers from CIRAD discussed viable contract models with land managers, local farmers, shepherds, pastoral and environmental experts, and policy experts.

The workshop results suggest a strong preference for developing the subsidiarity principle in collective contract definition and implementation and for promoting local knowledge by creating working groups that bring together various from pastoral territories.

The participants agree that identifying relevant environmental public goods should not result from a top-down approach but instead from a shared understanding of local ecological and pastoral challenges. These are to be defined and prioritized locally for each summer pasture by the working group following a shared ecological and pastoral diagnosis. Management plans will then be co-edited to specify appropriate sustainable pastoral practices and suitable indicators to base contractual engagements. The working group monitors the evolution of each situation and adapts collective grazing rules accordingly. Annual follow-up meetings will be held to report each pasture’s condition and potential management adaptations.

Public goods games to investigate farmer cooperation

Public goods games to investigate farmer cooperation

In the Netherlands the coordination of agri-environmental schemes (AES) is organized exclusively through 40 collectives across the country. Other EU-member states show great interest in this model. However, little is known about farmers’ willingness to cooperate. Therefore, to shed light on this issue, Contracts2.0 carried out a field experiment with 300 German farmers. So far, preliminary results suggest that farmers are more likely to cooperate than expected.

To study the dynamics between self-interest and cooperation among farmers, public goods games were used. Here, farmers received a sum of money to split between a private and a group account. Giving money into the group account is in the collective interest but at odds with individual interests, on the other hand. Pinpointing the optimal social solution did lead to the largest monetary contribution to the group account even though experts predicted differently (see figure).

So far, the  public goods games have presented itself as extremely useful. Researchers and policy makers can easily draw on this application-friendly analytical tool for understanding collaborative behavior. Concrete field implementation as well as results will follow in the coming weeks.