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September 15, 2022

No agricultural transition without transition economics

Adrienne de Malleray
A tractor in a field

We cannot ask farmers alone to carry the agricultural transition. Alone, they have neither the economic nor the technical means. There will be no transition without an economic model for all the players, without aligning their interests with the transition to be carried out. Virtue is not enough. Value must be created and more attractive, differentiating and sustainable economic mechanisms must be deployed to convince stakeholders to change their decision-making methods.
Finally, permaculture, organic farming and local supply will not solve everything. Changing the impact of agriculture also means changing the impact of the dominant actors who determine practices through their demands on quality and price standards. It is therefore essential to create a tool for leading the transition for these global companies.

The economic model of the agricultural transition can be deployed around three levers of value creation. 

The first lever is the development of knowledge on the state of agricultural land in a context where 30 to 60% of land is at risk. By linking this inventory to agricultural practices, it will be possible to identify problematic practices and to change them, and to identify truly virtuous practices. This is the basis for the high value-added agricultural advice that the market expects.

The second pillar is the valorisation of production chains certified by their origin and the soils from which they come. The price of foodstuffs is the central element of value creation. To give up on it is to be locked into immobility. By allowing the cooperative, the industrial buyer and even the consumer to be informed about the quality of origin of the production environment, each actor can make informed decisions, motivate them, and attach value to them. This is what made organic farming successful, where price was a key element of success. The same logic should apply to food from healthy soils .

The third pillar of the economic transformation of the agricultural market will be carbon credits or payments for environmental services. If we ask farmers to be the guardians of biodiversity, the climate and, more generally, the environment, they must be paid for this. The rating of soils will certify high value-added and massively deployable environmental credits.

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