Best agricultural practice (BAP) in plant production
In business, overall direction to the enterprise is provided by strategic management. Strategic management is the process of specifying an organization's objectives, developing policies and plans to achieve these objectives, and allocating resources to implement the policies and plans to achieve the organization's objectives. It is the highest level of managerial activity.
Strategic management for agricultural product chains is useful for the process of self-optimization in order to enhance production quality. But, in practice, there is nearly no distinct “monadic” chain of agricultural products. Behind the farm gate the raw materials are mostly used for a lot of different end products leading to a kind of “product network”.
As a consequence, for each segment of a product chain management strategies were formulated for realization of interests of single stakeholders. The result of negotiations along the product chain including realizations of Good or Best Agricultural Practices decisively depends on the social responsibility of all stakeholders. Mutual co-operation leads to enhancing sustainability. For instance, trade should have the ability to rely on agricultural practices following their demands, farmers should have the ability to count with receiving the price it costs fulfilling these demands, and for the consumer it should be transparent how a product has been produced and traded. The consumer on the other hand should respect that good quality products cannot be produced sustainably for cheap prices. While a GAP/BAP approach guarantees transparency and traceability for on-farm production, internal business executive audits like diverse business ethics assessments exist checking the quality of trade and retailing agricultural products. We call the management best if the performance considers the demands of all segments along the product chain and acts in that sense “emphatic”.
With respect to strategic management of product chains of agricultural products the exchange points between segments of a product chain offer the possibility to document and to evaluate the quality and reliability of information transfer by independent institutions. Here, possibly we will find a basis for recommendations to stakeholders which direction they should choose to increase the product chain quality and to enhance the sustainability of the related product chain.
Agricultural and forestal demands create national and international social, ecological and economical conflicts between interest groups.
Ethical norms are a conflict reduction strategy
Agro-ethics do not formulate a new universal ethical concept but find operational ways for the application of standards to agricultural and forestal production
Ethics: universal concept of norms and maxims of lifestyle characterized by full reponsibility for others irrespective moral or cultural affiliation.
Morals: temporary system of traditional, societal and religious norms and principles regulating interactions in specific social groupings.
Culture: entirety of intellectual, spiritual and artistic performances and values of a society feeling to belong together (even super-national groupings). At the same time culture is the cause for the behaviour of a society
Applied Ethics: reflections of universal norms with respect to special situations: bio-ethics, medicinal-ethics, here: agro-ethics
...define the normative framework for best agricultural and forestal practice in production and trade, taking over the liability of consequences for all concerned parties.
This includes the responsibility for a balanced realization of socio-cultural, ecological and economical demands as sustainable basis for future generations.
The author has been consultant of GIZ and is representative of the Institute for Plant Protection in Horticulture and Forestry, Julius-Kuehn-Institute, Braunschweig, Germany, for questions of Good Agricultural Practices and AgroEthics.