Socio-economic impacts and impacts of support policies

Development of institutions and support policies for organic agriculture in developing countries


The development of organic agriculture in many developing countries was firstly associated with the interests of some exporters and the activity of NGOs and international donors. Nowadays it is also very much conditioned by the presence and quality of the institutions entrusted with its support, and by the strategies of governments which are increasingly aware of the need to devise and implement adequate support policies for the characteristics, demands and real potential of this sector.

The research work along this line of study has been mostly carried out using the methods and tools of qualitative research (analysis of official documents, semi-structured interviews with privileged informants and national workshops). At times attention was concentrated on one specific country, and at times there was a comparative approach over a wider geographical area. The studies describe and analyse the characteristics and dynamics of the institutional situation in which the organic sector has developed, the history of national organic agriculture movements, the creation of legal, political and institutional frameworks to support the organic sector, and the development dynamics of the market.

Alongside the specific features of national and local contexts, the results have also highlighted some common traits shared by different countries (e.g. in the case of Balkan countries, the traits associated with the effects of “Europeanisation”) as well as other international cooperation ventures in the organic sector. What emerges quite clearly in the final recommendations of many studies is the usefulness of encouraging an exchange of experience and the sharing of problems and solutions at the regional level, in order to allow solid and durable growth of the organic sector. 

Starting: 2.01.2005
Scheduled ending: 23.09.2019
Real ending: 23.09.2019


·        Acquisition of in-depth knowledge of the individual and collective developmental dynamics of the organic sector in developing countries with particular reference to key operators and events

·        Analysis and monitoring of support policies for organic agriculture

·        Sharing of good (and bad) practices

·        Formulation of hypotheses, recommendations and intervention strategies to support organic agriculture for effective planning of future development of the sector and of the real and potential role of the different operators involved (including donors and cooperation agencies)



The line of research was launched within the context of institutional support and evaluation of the existent development policies carried out as part of PAB Project I and II. There was a natural continuity in Bio 84 Project/ Action Plan component, in the activities of MOAN (Mediterranean Organic Agriculture Network) because the development of legislative frameworks and strengthening of institutional capacities are among the priorities of the Network, and also in some Master theses.



The research carried out provides an important source of knowledge for future works on the same subjects in other developing countries, where the development of organic agriculture is modelled by various endogenous and exogenous factors (to the sector and to the countries) and where there is strong interest in models and good practices which have emerged from other territorial contexts.



  • Strengths

It is important to underline the benefits of the synergies between research and cooperation projects; these have guaranteed essential logistical support to the researchers and also direct contact with a very large number of privileged informants and access to many official documents. On the other hand, the research results have offered the project partners accurate in-depth analysis which has met with interest and appreciation. It is also worth mentioning that the subject is now included in the research strategy for organic agriculture in Europe - Vision for an Organic Food and Farming Research Agenda to 2025 – drawn up by a group of recognized experts as part of the “Technology Platform Organics initiative, aimed at directing research and research funding towards the real needs of the sector. In December 2009, TP organics published “Strategic Research Agenda for organic food and farming” with a section entitled “Empowerment of rural areas: the socio-economic challenge”, specifically dedicated to this subject ( MAI.B is mentioned among the institutions whose experts have contributed towards the creation of the document, and there is also (p. 55) a specific project proposal by the MAI.B work group, in connection with the present line of research.

  • Weaknesses

The research studies on this subject have taken place over a limited period of time, due to the time scaling of cooperation project activities or the Master theses involved. It is evident that if research work were linked to wider-ranging projects and initiatives, there would be more time for this research and opportunity for more detailed in-depth analysis.

Reference person/s: Pugliese Patrizia /
Collaborators: Al Bitar Lina / Bteich MarieReine / Pasko Pandeli /
Institutions involved:
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