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John, Jörg, 2015. Developing a market for organic lentils : qualitative insights from a farmer led producer group in Germany. Second cycle, A2E. Alnarp: SLU, Dept. of People and Society



The growing of grain legumes has many benefits and can increase the sustainability of
farming systems. Grain legumes have the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere
and need less or no nitrogen fertilizers, and produce nutritious seeds high in protein. In
addition, grain legumes can diversify and enhance cereal based cropping systems by improving
soil structure, reducing disease pressure and provide nitrogen for following
crops. Although, the benefits provided by grain legumes in agriculture have been known
for a long time, the cultivation of these crops in Europe decreased within the last decades
due to a wide range of challenges. An increase in grain legume cultivation is seen
as an opportunity to reduce the negative impact of European agriculture on the environment,
but this would require strategies that can stimulate the cultivation of grain
legumes despite the complex challenges. This thesis is a qualitative study focussing on a
producer group which developed a production system for organic lentils on the Swabian
Alb, a low mountain range in south-west Germany. The main aim of this thesis is to explore
which factors, actors and collaborations have supported the development of organic
lentil production on the Swabian Alb. The objectives are: (1) to understand what
motivates farmers to grow lentils, (2) to understand which challenges farmers face when
they grow lentils (3) to understand how farmers accessed and organised the required
knowledge to develop the lentil production system, and (4) to evaluate roles and contributions
of actors and organisations that interact with the producer group, in order to understand
how these interactions enhanced the development of organic lentil production.
In order to develop this understanding an innovation systems approach was chosen to
guide the analysis, which was based on semi-structured interviews conducted with the
initiator of the producer group, his son the production manager, and 14 lentil growers of
the producer group. The results showed that farmers started growing lentils mainly for
two reasons: out of curiosity to try out something new, and to diversify and improve
their crop rotation. The profitability of the crop and the broad acceptance for it were major
reasons to continue the cultivation. As major challenges the farmers stated weed infestation
which was highly influenced by local conditions, crop rotation and weather
conditions. The access to knowledge on lentil cultivation was very limited in the beginning
and farmers had to develop the cultivation systems through experimentation. The
study revealed a comprehensive network of actors that collaborated with the producer
group in manifold ways over the last years, which helped to develop the lentil production
and increased awareness of the producer group and their products. The commitment
and communication skills of the initiator, institutional changes in the wider surroundings
of the producer group, and positive attitudes of the diverse actors towards collaboration
were identified as major factors that supported the development of organic lentil
production in the region. A promising strategy aimed at stimulating organic lentil production
may include: (1) enhancing institutional change and thus creating an enabling
environment; (2) providing targeted support for lentil grower initiatives focused on actual
needs, (3) and facilitating the collaboration between farmers, researchers, food processors,
local authorities and the media, in order to enhance the capacity for innovation of involved actors.

Main title:Developing a market for organic lentils
Subtitle:qualitative insights from a farmer led producer group in Germany
Authors:John, Jörg
Supervisor:Hunter, Erik and Carlsson, Georg
Examiner:Jensen, Erik Steen
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2015
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:LM005 Agroecology - Master's programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(LTJ, LTV) > Dept. of People and Society
Keywords:lentil, intercropping, agricultural innovation systems, organic farming, farmer-led initiative, agricultural development, producer groups, grain legumes, pulses
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural economics and policies
Organization, administration and management of agricultural enterprises or farms
Plant ecology
Deposited On:08 Dec 2015 12:09
Metadata Last Modified:09 Dec 2015 05:00

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