Topic: The driving forces of institutionalisation: the spread of organic farming in Romania
Keywords: organic farming, institutionalisation, Romania, organic movement, organic markets, rural policy
The paper aims to explore the factors enabling the spread of organic farming, using the example of Romania. The development of the organic sector has been extensively studied in the scholarly literature (Alroe and Noe, 2008; Michelsen, 2001; Rigby et al., 2001; Stolze and Lampkin, 2009). Most of these papers focus on statistics, for example, the proportion of certified organic farms; the development of certified organic areas; the development of policies enabling the spread of organic farming. In addition, the attitudes and characteristics of farmers are frequently discussed issues. Michelsen (2001) offers an institutional analysis to describe the co-evolution of organic agriculture, agricultural and rural policies together with the food market in Europe. Moschitz et al (2015) analyse the institutional development of organic farming in Czechia (2015), and compare the Polish and Czech organic sector (Moschitz and Stolze, 2010).
The literature also includes a focus on the farming sector, including farmers’ motivation to convert to organic principles (Fairweather, 2004; Kerselaers et al., 2007; Lamine and Bellon, 2009) and on attitudes toward organic methods (Padel, 2001; Storstad and Bjørkhaug, 2003; Sullivan et al., 1996; Zagata, 2009).
The research in this paper has made use of qualitative methods: document-analysis and semi-structured interviews (Gerring, 2006; Kvale, 1994; Yin, 2009) conducted with organic producers, decision-makers, members of control bodies and civic associations between 2014 and 2016.
Based on our analysis we argue that there are three main driving forces behind the institutionalization of organic farming. The first point to be discussed is that organic farming originally had a strong (social) movement character (Kaltoft, 2001; Padel, 2001; Tovey, 1997) in Western-Europe. The second driving force under discussion is the market. The third driving force of the institutionalization of organic farming, according to the literature, is linked to agricultural and rural policies (Michelsen, 2001; Rigby et al., 2001; Sutherland et al., 2012). The analysis of the Romanian case also showed the direct and short term influences of rural policies. It will be argued that the three driving forces are present simultaneously, thus it is worth analysing them together to understand the contemporary development of the organic sector.