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Final Report Summary - MULTAGRI (Capitalistaion of research results on the multifunctionality of agriculture and rural areas)

The aim of this project was to provide a complete overview of the research that has been done, particularly in Europe, in the different aspects related to multifunctionality of agriculture. Issues such as equitable regional development, food security and safety, natural resource conservation, rural income generation and global sustainability - explicitly revealed in the Strategy for Sustainable Development as key concern -, are clearly covered by the concept of multifunctionality of agriculture, and therefore, were an important part of the analysis of the state-of-the-art review carried out within the MULTAGRI project.

This state-of-the-art on multifunctionality has revealed that multifunctionality does not only represent a new research issue but probably a new way of comprehending agriculture and rural areas. Several observations were made. Concerns linked to the various functions are predominately expressed through other concepts that multifunctionality, such as diversification, sustainability, etc. This induces confusion between the use of the different words, notably multifunctionality and sustainability.

Current research in multifunctionality is highly fragmented. The different issues surveyed in this state-of-the-art generally deal with the different functions in a segregated way and are not carried out in a multifunctional purpose with a global approach.

The scientific disciplines mobilised are mainly of social sciences. The contribution of other relevant scientific disciplines, such as natural sciences and rural planning, would be important to understand relationship between farm output and other functions. Some researchers within these disciplines such as agronomy have started to adopt the word and launched new works.

A consistent conceptual framework is largely lacking. Methods that fully correspond with the concept of multifunctional agriculture and rural space have yet to be developed.

All these observations reveal the necessity of clarification and deepening around the concept of multifunctionality.