Topic: Science-policy interfaces to support the role of small farms in regional food systems: some evidences
Key words: small farms, empowerment, science-policy interface, multi-actor interactions
This paper explores science – policy interface (SPI) as an arena of interactions between researchers and policy-makers to support more vulnerable rural and food stakeholders, such as small farms (SF). European SF for a long time have been and still largely remain at “the dark side of the moon”: there is growing, but still quite limited knowledge about their situation and role in food systems, and, more specifically, their contribution to food and nutritional security (FNS) remains poorly explored. The visibility of SF is reduced also by the fact that they are weakly represented in agricultural and food policy making. While bigger-scale actors and industries are well represented in respective policy-making structures, smaller ones are at a much lesser extent so.
The paper gathers researchers’ experiences from an ongoing Horizon2020 project SALSA of their engaging in policy processes through a range of project-generated activities and knowledge, such as collaboration in communities of practice, with a broader set of stakeholders, targeted dissemination activities and other. While SALSA project has been closing some knowledge gaps regarding SFs’ situation and their role in FNS, it has also generated and contributed to a range of initiatives at science-policy interface. With an overall goal to empower SF and support their role in regional food systems, these initiatives have been aimed at bringing to light a reality which has become unseen in the dominant European agricultural regimes, and at influencing and contributing to policies with science-based evidences and co-created knowledge to better address SFs’ needs.
The paper explores and systematizes a range of activities at SPI undertaken by the project’s researchers along two dimensions: (1) the position of SPI in policy process (from problem identification, to evaluation and adaptation of policies), and (2) the degree of researchers’ involvement in policy construction (from information supply to co-design). It concludes about researchers’ potential to contribute to a more inclusive agricultural and food policy process by supporting there the voice of the underrepresented SF.