Sustainability of Local Agri-food Products in the Border Area of Northern Portugal and Castilla-Léon
Even in relatively peripheral areas, such as the Portuguese-Spanish border regions, agriculture and food systems have changed greatly in the last decades. Traditional agricultural systems have been declining and some products are no longer appreciated, or even tend to become quantitatively insignificant. Not only are producers ageing but their knowledge and know-how along with the local genetic heritage and biodiversity associated with farming are at risk of disappearing. Local products and markets have been progressively integrated into the larger framework of the global food market. Distributors, restaurant owners and consumers in general rely more and more on exogenous food products, despite the undeniable quality of the existing products and the emerging new urban demand for these products at a larger scale. Recent studies show that there is still room for small-scale production and localized food systems, although a considerable effort needs to be made if they are to be strengthened or re-established. This paper presents a comparative study of both the potential and limitations of traditional local products in the border area of Northern Portugal and the Spanish Province of Salamanca, in Castilla-Léon. It analyzes the types of products, production processes, qualification strategies, as well as the markets and commercialization approaches. The study is based on official published documents and interviews with local producers. Results show that the Portuguese regions are better positioned in terms of number of producers of traditional products, especially the organic products. On the whole, the major difficulties seem to lie in adequately qualifying, promoting and commercializing the products. Besides, co-operation among local agri-food entrepreneurs (in each zone and across the border) is quite feeble and does pose a challenge for the future. In general, localized systems tend to be quite weak, due to the decrease in population and the poor co-ordination among actors and the organization of local supply chains.
|Date of creation:||27 Oct 2010|
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