Socio-economic impacts and impacts of support policies

Organic agriculture and local development in developing countries


In developing countries, organic agriculture is often proposed and encouraged as an export opportunity, and so the economic benefits are distributed among only a few operators (local and foreign) who are able to invest and enjoy useful political and commercial contacts.

The last few years have seen a wealth of studies by many international organisations (including the FAO, IFAD and UNCTAD) and various research groups. The results of this quantitative and qualitative research aim to spread awareness in the scientific community, local institutions and donors of the great range of positive impacts deriving from organic production (certified and non-certified). The daily life of very many small farmers and communities in the rural areas of developing countries benefits from improvements in human, social, financial, natural and physical resources. Examples of this are the contribution of organic agriculture to reaching the MDGs, or the many studies highlighting the impact of organics in terms of  “Sustainable Rural Livelihoods”.

The potential of this line of research has not been explored very far in the Mediterranean, and this is  the reason for interest in the possibility of developing it further.

Starting: 2.01.2003
Scheduled ending: 23.09.2019
Real ending: 23.09.2019


·        To draw up a register and study the successful initiatives in developing countries where organic agriculture is a means of local and rural sustainable development

·        To spread good practices

·        To contribute towards development of the international debate on this issue, in which many donors and development agencies are already active, and to bring the experience and vision of the southern/eastern Mediterranean rim countries into the discussion.



A number of MOA Master theses have dealt with this topic, and since 2006 the first year of the Master programme has included a specific module taught by Prof. Markus Schermer of Innsbruck University(Austria), with the precise aim of developing a research line in this direction. In addition, during his annual week’s course, a seminar is organised to extend awareness and collect interesting suggestions by inviting a speaker from one of the southern/eastern Mediterranean countries to talk about examples of successful interaction between organic agriculture and local development. 



This line of research could find useful opportunities for development in cooperation projects and in future Master theses.

Interesting synergies could be explored with Slow Food International, seeing that it now has a partnership with the organic movement, and also more generally, considering the growing interest in the association of organic agriculture with various aspects of rural development (e.g. tourism, typical products) also in developing countries.



  • Strengths

The theme is in part inexplored. It raises interest in the sphere of international cooperation and of studies on the evolution of the organic sector in developing countries. Over there, organic agriculture is increasingly appreciated not only for export opportunities but also for its positive impact on the national territories in terms of local market, socio-economic sustainability for small farmers and preservation of natural reosurces.

  • Weaknesses

Lack of a dedicated project has so far made collection of information fragmented and discontinuous.

Reference person/s: Pugliese Patrizia /
Collaborators: Antonelli Annarita /
Institutions involved:
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