Learning outcomes of the course unit
Understanding the Italian and European agri-food system, both with a supply chain and sectorial perspective. In particular, the course aims to:
- develop the knowledge of issues concerning the role of agriculture and the agri-food system in the economic development, the characteristics of the demand and supply of food products, the functioning and organization of the agri-food system and the companies involved;
- deepen the theoretical and operational implications deriving from the presence of market failures (externalities / public goods, transaction costs and information asymmetry);
- provide the tools to understand current food quality policies on national and international markets and their strategic role for agri-food companies.
Students will also gain skills related to the analysis of case studies (e.g., the analysis of agro-food chain, or geographical indications) using the knowledge acquired during the course.
Propaedeutic courses are not required
Course contents summary
The course, after a brief introduction illustrating the main analytical tools of microeconomics, explores the aspects of the agri-food system and food demand. In particular, it analyzes the quality issues related to private and public standards and guarantee schemes, as well as private company strategies. A specific part of the course aims to analyze the distinctive characteristics and behavior management of agricultural and food cooperatives.
1) Micro-economics: demand and supply; perfect competitive markets; theory of production.
2) Agri-food system organisation: supply chain; vertical and horizontal integration process.
3) Cooperatives and producer’s associations: cooperatives’ role in the agri-food system; elements of the cooperatives’ balance sheet.
4) Sustainability in the agri-food sector, evolution of the concept, environmental, social and economic sustainability of the short supply chains, sustainable diets, food loss and waste;
5) Quality specification in the agri-food system and Geographical Indications: quality attributes of food products; asymmetric information, moral hazard and adverse selection; compulsory public regulations; voluntary certification schemes; economics of traditional and quality certified products (e.g. PDO/PGI).
- Textbook edited by the teacher "Agrifood Economics ".
- Further readings will be uploaded on the teacher’s webpage.
Lectures and seminars
Assessment methods and criteria
• The final exam will be written with mainly closed-answer questions and at least one open-ended question.
• The student’s knowledge will be evaluated with questions concerning the whole program, namely 1) Institution of economics, 2) Organization of the agro-food system, 3) Cooperatives and producer organizations, 4) Sustainability in the agri-food sector, 5) Quality regulation in the agri-food sector and Geographical Indications. The competences that will be evaluated concern the student's ability to apply these concepts to case studies proposed during the exam by the professor.
• The criteria used to evaluate the student on the open answer question(s) are: a) ability to elaborate the knowledge transmitted during the course, applying them to the concrete cases proposed by the teacher in the exam question(s); b) ability to argue their answers with references to economic theories, possibly through the use of formulas and graphs, to analyze from an economic point of view the proposed case studies, c) methods of linguistic exposure and use of specific terminology . For each open-ended question, these three indicators will be weighed as follows: a) 50%, b) 30%, c) 20%. Closed-ended questions will be multiple-choice questions in which the student must indicate the correct answer(s), or the wrong answer(s).
• The final score will be determined as follows: each of the closed-answer questions will be assigned one point for each correct answer, while a penalty of 0.2 for the wrong answers is provided. In addition, a score from 1 to 10 will be assigned for the open answer question(s) using the weights for the three criteria above mentioned. On the basis of the number of closed and open answer questions in the test, a weighted average of the scores will be performed, considering a weight of at least 1/3 for the evaluation obtained in the open answer question(s). To obtain the sufficiency the candidate needs an overall score greater than or equal to 18.
• An intermediate test is scheduled using the same methodology as the final exam, concerning a part of the program (approx. the first 3 chapters of the program). The evaluation of the intermediate exam, expressed in /30, will remain valid for the entire summer exam session. The evaluation of the second test, which will focus on the remaining part of the program, will be used to calculate the arithmetic average with the evaluation of the first partial test in order to obtain the final evaluation. If the candidate does not pass the second test, or refuses the final grade obtained, he can repeat the second test, within the limits of the summer exam session.