Climate change is expected to lead to increased occurrences of droughts, floods, and rising sea levels, which may result in soil and water salinisation, thereby affecting agricultural productivity and food and water security. According to the FAO’s reports, progressing salinisation is one of the major drivers of soil degradation in Europe as well as Near East and North Africa, exerting increasing pressure on conventional farming (FAO, 2015). The SALAD project addresses the research area of food security under climate change by implementing climate-smart agricultural solutions through the upscaling of saline agriculture. The SALAD project seeks to change behaviours, strategies, and agricultural practices along the value chain, raising awareness for climate change impacts and the adaptation possibilities to salinisation among stakeholders. You can find more information regarding the SALAD project on the project website: www.saline-agriculture.com.
This report describes the methodology we have devised to map stakeholders in case studies of saline agricultural systems, which we have here applied to the Dutch potato sector. The Dutch potato industry holds a strong global position, and salt-tolerant potato varieties have the potential to sustain global food security in areas affected by increasing salinisation. Encouraging a sector-wide shift in our domestic industry could have global implications for broader adaptation of salt-tolerant varieties, and thereby help combat the increasing risk of salinisation-driven food insecurity.
Implementing climate-smart agricultural solutions such as this requires extensive cooperation with, and understanding of, stakeholders at every stage of the value chain. This report employs a stakeholder analysis approach to identify and classify key actors in the Dutch potato industry in order to understand the relationships and power dynamics between them. Understanding not only who the stakeholders are, but the balance of influence within the industry is a vital first step for long-term cooperation in the sustainable development of the national agricultural system.
The results reveal two key barriers to change which must be overcome before salinisation adaptation strategies are viable. First, stakeholders collectively feel a lack of agency; coupled with an absence of internal consensus about leadership within the field, more research is required to identify possible change makers within the value chain. Second, while the Dutch industry holds a strong global position, stakeholders show less concern about the risk of salinisation than researchers outside of the industry. Simply put, multiple stakeholders (particularly farmers) perceive the current nitrogen crisis to be a far greater threat to their future than salinisation. As a result, there is no sense of urgency around implementing these adaptation strategies.
This report suggests that increasing awareness along the value chain about the threat salinisation poses to the viability of the food system, potentially framing it as a parallel problem alongside the nitrogen crisis, could help increase awareness of salinisation. Engaging stakeholders in open and honest dialogue to build an inclusive and transparent process will enable all stakeholders to have a voice and contribute to innovating the industry to ensure its resilience and adaptive capacities to the challenges of climate change. While this methodology has been tailored to the specific context of the Dutch potato industry, it can be transferred to other contexts and other crops. This has the potential to further the goals of the SALAD project by identifying and bringing greater understanding of the stakeholders in the agricultural industries of the other European and African countries where SALAD team members are conducting research.
Authors: Zoe Aldrich, Pim van Tongeren, Katarzyna Negacz.
You can access the report here.