Network and networks: the contribution to agri-food and rural areas

Guest editors:

Deadline: February 28, 2019



Section: network2019


Collaborative relationships between both public or private players play a crucial role in the development of agro-food supply chains and of rural areas and are subject to scientific in-depth analysis, also at a multi-disciplinary level. Various and diversified are the experiences where such “institutional” relationships have fostered the economic and social improvement, as well as the environmental conditions by means of essentially sectorial approaches (sectoral contracts, integrated supply-chain projects, OP and AOP, etc), territorial approaches (rural and agro-food districts, bio-districts, Leader, strategy of in land areas, food-districts, river contracts, agro-food agreements) or immaterial approaches (network, training and research networks, incubators, etc.). From this point of view, the agro-food system and the rural areas do represent real incubators of social innovation, where new alternative governance patterns and innovative measures for a sustainable development have been experienced, seeking to adapt to the diversities that characterize the agro-food sector and the European rural areas.


Many of these initiatives are promoted by public policies and are aimed at maximizing the efficiency of the measures and at avoiding the leakage of public support, many others have developed “autonomously” in order to cope with specific needs of a sector or of a territory.


This publication aims to gather some key-elements that characterize a network approach and its related advantages, in order to detect patterns able to:

-              Bring benefits at company level, triggering in the meantime welfare at company and territorial levels;

-              Establish a dialogue between public and private stakeholders in a perspective other than funder/financed or controller/controlled;

-              Tackle the new economic, social and environmental issues with innovative solutions for obtaining financial resources, know-how and skills;

-              Meet the needs of consumers in terms of food safety and food quality;

-              Foster the supply and the remuneration of ecosystem services by agro-food sector and rural areas;

-              Stop the abandonment of agricultural activities and/or depopulation of rural areas by promoting the settlement of innovative holdings, the creation of services to companies and population.



Networks, supply-chains, districts, integration, Food system, Agro-ecosystem, sustainable development, Rural communities, territory, in land areas, innovation.