Public administrators, restaurant and canteen owners, and business owners in the tourism industry in the Cilento region of Italy started working together to promote local organic produce. By facilitating their cooperation, the organic farming association, AIAB, has helped the farmers to sustain their business.

In 2004, farmers in the Cilento area of the Italian region of Campania were facing difficulties reaching consumers and sustaining their business. The organic farming association, AIAB, saw this challenge as an opportunity to launch a new initiative based on the district model.

The Bio-District Model

The key point of the bio-district model is that AIAB brings together a variety of local actors instead of helping individual farms through measures. So, public administration, restaurants, canteens, tourism business and so on worked out a common strategy for the development of organic food and farming in Cilento and the area itself, based around organic principles.

“By being part of a bio-district, farmers have the opportunity to market most of their produce locally through organic markets, farm outlets, direct distribution, solidarity purchasing groups and as part of the tourist circuit – bio-trails, for example. Besides, by reaching out to schools, farmers have direct experience and influence on children and their parents, helping them to reconnect with food production as well as promote environmental stewardship. It is in fact a mutually enriching experience for farmers and citizens to get to know each other. It establishes trust and deeper connection” – Salvatore Basile, founder of Bio-district Cilento

Watch the video Who Is Benefiting From Bio-District Innovation? and meet some of the people involved in the project.

A Win-Win Situation

The idea behind this approach is to create and reinforce links that benefit everyone involved: Organic farmers get better market access and exposure, consumers benefit from transparency about the origins of their food and enjoy fresh, organically grown local products, the tourism operators offer new sights or destinations (eco trails and agri-tourism farms), and public authorities ensure food security.

Examples of activities within the bio-district are short food chains, purchasing groups, organic canteens in public offices and schools.

“Thanks to the Bio-district we could increase our presence and our strength in the area” – farmer Anna Nigro

Playing On the Culture

In bio-districts, it is a must to link the promotion of organic produce with the promotion of the land and its special characteristics. This way it can fully realize its economic, social and cultural potential.

The Idea Is Catching On

The Bio-district Cilento now includes 33 municipalities and 450 organic farms, which is 23 per cent of the total number of organic producers in Campania. 14 more bio-districts have been set up across Italy and several more in other countries.

The impact for the area of Cilento is diverse. In the last 2 years, the turnover of organic farmers and companies has increased by 20 per cent. The bio-district has created a network of 20 restaurants promoting local produce. Finally, the share of organically managed land has also increased.

Watch Video

Watch the video Who Is Benefiting From Bio-District Innovation? and meet some of the people involved in the project.

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