What Is Democratic Management for Localized Food Systems?Lessons from a Case in France

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 18:30
Oral Presentation
Azusa OSUMI, Ritsumeikan University, Japan
Denis SAUTIER, CIRAD, UMR Innovations, France
For the last decades, Geographical Indications (GIs) have been expanding worldwide, with an expectation to contribute to the solution of various socio-economic problems in agri-food systems. In particular, it is anticipated that the democratic form of a GI organization, relying on a significant degree of bottom-up rules and collective decision-making, can stimulate a more sustainable development of the local agri-food system. Furthermore, in some countries it is possible that through participating in activities under GIs, people strengthen their capacity to realize the democratic development of a society.

This paper starts by reviewing literature to clarify which are the conditions of "democratic" management of a food system and why the activities in a food system have to be managed democratically. GI systems rely on multi-scale levels of governance: micro, meso, national and international. We look at a case in France (the” Lucques du Languedoc” table olives labelled under Protected Denomination of Origin) and scrutinize this example in light of democratic management. We focus first inside the GI scheme, on the structural functions that ensure democratic management; and then outside, on the interactions with excluded actors and the recruitment of new members. We show that the GI governance at “meso” level, i.e. the Inter-Professional body, plays important roles in terms of coordination, in capacity strengthening services, and in representing the producers’ and the product’s interests at higher regulation levels. The discussion establishes a comparison with other countries that have more recently introduced GI protection under different political contexts (Vietnam Brazil and Japan). Lessons are drawn from the comparison with this case in France. We conclude that because of their decentralized dimension and versatile mechanisms, GIs can either empower local groups or be inserted in large corporate strategies.