Opportunities for underutilized breeds and varieties  in agriculture and food transition

Published on
October 31, 2019

Many ‘old’ varieties and breeds of crops and livestock have become endangered as a result of intensification, specialization and decreasing profitability. However, the intended transition of the Dutch agriculture and food system towards nature-inclusive, circular and multifunctional systems can provide new opportunities. The transition could also go together with an increasing consumer demand for high quality products of currently underutilized species, breeds and varieties. Enthusiastic entrepreneurs and supporting stakeholders discussed business models and opportunities for valorization of neglected breeds and varieties at a Dutch Inspiration day on October 9th 2019.

This day was organized by the Centre for Genetic Resources the Netherlands of Wageningen University and Research, the Foundation for Rare Domestic Animal Breeds, the Foundation de Oerakker (old varieties of crops) and Slowfood the Netherlands.

Although each breed or variety has its unique features and characteristics, entrepreneurs/farmers will have to develop a business model taking advantage of all values associated with the breed or variety. One needs to develop a vision on  specific breed/variety related quality products,  use the local or regional context of the farm and develop a cooperation model with other farmers and actors in the value chain. There is no blueprint for developing a successful business model or for a sustainable valorization strategy. The participants stressed the importance of mutual trust, fair and true pricing, a compelling story and strong coordination. And prerequisites for entrepreneurial success are: positive energy, willfulness, flexibility and perseverance.