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Social Innovation and Sustainable Rural Development: The Case of a Brazilian Agroecology Network

Oscar José Rover (), Bernardo Corrado De Gennaro () and Luigi Roselli
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Oscar José Rover: Department of Zootechny and Rural Development, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis-SC 88034-001, Brazil
Bernardo Corrado De Gennaro: Department of Agricultural and Environmental Science, University of Bari Aldo Moro, 70126 Bari, Italy

Sustainability, 2016, vol. 9, issue 1, 1-14

Abstract: Food is central to human beings and their social life. The growing industrialization of the food system has led to a greater availability of food, along with an increasing risk perception and awareness in consumers. At the same time, there is an increasing resistance from citizens to the dominant model of production and a growing demand for healthy food. As a consequence, an increasing number of social networks have been formed worldwide involving the collaboration between producers and consumers. One of these networks, the Ecovida Agroecology Network, which operates in Southern Brazil, involves farming families, non-governmental organizations, and consumer organizations, together with other social actors. Using a qualitative approach based on participant observation and an analysis of documents, the article examines this network. The theoretical framework used is social innovation, which is commonly recognized as being fundamental in fostering rural development. Results show that Ecovida has instigated innovations that relate to its horizontal and decentralized structure, its participatory certification of organic food, and its dynamic relationship with the markets based on local exchanges and reciprocal relations. Furthermore, such innovation processes have been proven to impact on public sector policies and on the increasing cooperation between the social actors from rural and urban areas.

Keywords: Ecovida Agroecology Network; social innovation; participant observation; Alternative Food Networks; Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS); sustainable rural development (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2016
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