Conventional and alternative agri-food chains

Authored by: Victòria Soldevila-Lafon , Lourdes Viladomiu , Jordi Rosell Foxà

The Routledge handbook of comparative rural policy

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138594111
eBook ISBN: 9780429489075
Adobe ISBN:


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After the restructuring processes of the twentieth century, agriculture is no longer a self-sufficient activity. It requires industrial inputs and services and it is no longer the sole producer of final goods. Consequently, the distance between farmers and consumers has increased and new agents have appeared in the agri-food value chain. A broad range of methodological frameworks has emerged in order to analyze the origins, performance, and governance of agri-food value chains, from the seminal notions of agribusiness, to the filières, to the more recent concepts of global commodity chains or global value chains. All these frameworks underline the marginalization of farmers in the agri-food governance and value appropriation. This chapter offers a broad view of the different value chain approaches and their main contributions to the understanding of the role played by farmers. The chapter also discusses the emerging concepts of short food supply chains and alternative food networks as an alternative to the conventional agri-food chains. Short food supply chains have become a significant element in the new rural development paradigm and are increasingly taken into consideration in food and rural policies.

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