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11.2 European Agriculture in Transition

Thursday, June 29, 2023
11:00 - 12:30


Laura Innocenti
assistante doctorante
University of Neuchâtel

Sustainable 'smart farming'? Technological solutionism and alternatives in technology providers' visions and practices


Today agriculture is facing multiple challenges, including issues related to climate change, animal welfare and environmental degradation, along with the basic economic challenges of ensuring farmers’ livelihoods. Agricultural technology providers recognize a variety of needs of farmers and social demands alike. ‘Smart farming’ technologies, for example, are often presented as (part of) the solution to these.
In my presentation, I explore how (agricultural) technology companies envision and promote ‘smart farming’ as a sustainable form of agriculture. The presentation is based on an ongoing PhD project about companies’ envisioning and making of ‘smart farming’ in Switzerland and is also concerned with how ‘smart farming’ imaginaries are coproduced between Swiss and multinational companies in a specific national context. With its sensibility for normativity, power issues, and tensions between global and national developments, the concept of sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff 2015) can further our understanding of change and transformation. I analyze ‘smart farming’ imaginaries through a discourse analysis of companies’ webpages, interviews with managers and employees, as well as presentations at industry events and fairs. In particular, I attend in my presentation to the underlying logics of companies’ discourse regarding ‘smart farming’ (technology) resolving sustainability issues and productivity demands in one go and how the companies help construct or perpetuate particular agricultural systems or power relations rather than others.

Jasanoff, Sheila (2015): Future Imperfect. Science, Technology, and the Imaginations of Modernity. In S. Jasanoff & S. Kim (eds.), Dreamscapes of Modernity. Sociotechnical Imaginaries and the Fabrication of Power, 1-33.
Oswald Sydd
University of Eastern Finland

Potentials and challenges for a zero-loss agriculture in Europe: the case of beef production in North Karelia, Finland


The EU’ Farm-to-Fork strategy aims to ensure that agriculture and food value-chains contribute appropriately to the process of converting the EU to a climate-neutral Union in 2050 by decreasing Food Loss (and Waste). Combining a mix of sustainable supply chain analysis and local case studies on policy implementation the paper addresses questions of Food Loss implementation to the beef farmers in Eastern Finland, focusing on potential implementation of the EU transnational agricultural and circular policies in a continuous reduction of Food Loss among food supply chain stakeholders. North Karelian beef production is based on own traditional heritage in growing calves and on a multistage farming system of growing bulls that supports to control the amount of Food Loss along food supply chains in Finland. Nonetheless, North Karelian farmers find it challenging to further improve their practices in continuous reduction of food loss in beef farming. Findings, based on current farmer’s perspectives, indicate that chances to achieve a zero-level of Food Loss in North Karelia are challenging, if not unlikely. Still, there are some potentials, aiming to understand how far Finnish farmers detect themselves around zero-level on the Food Loss scale. Thereby we evaluate farmers’ ability and willingness to implement Farm-to-Fork strategy, influencing the overall level of Food Loss and assess the means and the proportion of losses, supposed to be improved on a farm level.
Elif Birbiri
Bogazici University

Agrarian Transformations and the Rise of the Neo-peasantry in Turkey


‘Neo-peasantry’ is an emerging concept which focuses on new migration patterns in rural Turkey. Previously, small scale peasants used to move from rural to urban areas as a result of political and economic events in the country. The movement has reversed with neo-peasants who are mostly white-collars, university educated and having different forms of capital: financial wealth, agricultural know-how, cultural capital, and networks within food movements. In fact, their motivations to migrate to rural areas are different. Also, they mainly migrated to coastal areas of the Western part of the country which is not a coincidence but a socio-geographic decision. Some of them prioritize ecological considerations, others are agrarian entrepreneurs who produce value-added products and sell it in the domestic market.

These ‘reverse migrants’ do not only constitute various means of production, but also transform the villages they move in. Social tensions and/or solidarities were created with local communities. For instance, some of the neo-peasants fenced off their houses to avoid constant social contact with neighbors and were criticized for “privatizing the common land” and creating socio-spatial distance. In contrast, others aimed to do what was ‘ecologically and politically right.’ They are engaged with agro-ecological production methods and support the small-scale peasants in rural areas.

Considering the multifaceted aspects of transformations in rural areas, this presentation will answer the following: Do neo-peasants constitute a new form of agricultural production? How did their migration patterns reshape the villages? How do different forms of capital contribute to their agricultural and social activities?

Session host

Martijn van der Heide
University of Groningen



Contact for questions about abstracts or registration: groningen@congressbydesign.com 

Contact for questions about the content of the programme: ruralgeo2023@rug.nl