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MULTAGRI — Result In Brief

Project ID: 505297
Funded under: FP6-SUSTDEV
Country: France

Supporting the multiple benefits of agriculture

A large European consortium reviewed the research conducted on the multifunctionality of agriculture. Results are hoped to direct farming practice policies towards sustaining the multiple benefits arising from agricultural activities.
Supporting the multiple benefits of agriculture
Multifunctionality of agriculture is an ambiguous term that has come to describe the benefits arising from agriculture other than food and fibre. Depending on the context, it can have a vast array of meanings from the maintenance of rural communities and tourism, to biological diversity and animal welfare. It is becoming evident that for agriculture to be sustained, its multifunctional dimension must be acknowledged and promoted.

The EU-funded ‘Capitalistaion of research results on the multifunctionality of agriculture and rural areas’ (Multagri) project aimed to review the research that has been conducted in the different aspects related to multifunctionality of agriculture. Project partners covered issues such as equitable regional development, food security and safety, natural resource conservation, rural income generation and global sustainability.

Special interest was paid to the definition and interpretation of the term multifunctionality, as it was found to be often confused with agriculture sustainability. Additionally, methodologies and tools to assess the different roles of agriculture were reviewed alongside societal demands for additional agricultural goods and services.

Results indicated that current research in multifunctionality is highly fragmented and the contribution of other relevant scientific disciplines, such as natural sciences and rural planning, would be important to understand the relationship between farm output and other functions.

Multagri project observations revealed the necessity to further clarify the concept of agriculture multifunctionality and establish a consistent conceptual framework. Devising methods that fully correspond with the concept of multifunctional agriculture will strengthen rural economies and maximise agricultural benefits, while preserving local ecosystems.

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