Collaborating to strengthen sustainable agro-food initiatives
A project commitment to reinforce rural communities, production networks and local consumption
The first stage of the "Mincha d'aqui" strategy (Eat from here in the Aragonese language) reached completion on 23 of March 2018. The project's official name is 'Dinamisation of local and sustainable food initiatives in the Pyrenees and the somontano Aragonese'. Its general objective was to create a network of local and sustainable agro-food initiatives in the territory of the Pyrenees and Somontano[*] in Aragon, Spain. The project was specifically developed in the regions of La Jacetania, Alto Gállego, Sobrarbe and Somontano de Barbastro. The aim is to contribute to the integral sustainability of these lands through actions that allow preserving the ecosystems of those disadvantaged areas, incentivising their inhabitants and local economy.
This project of sustainable food initiatives is both interdisciplinary and inter-institutional. It was launched by local organisations of the territory mentioned, specifically: Hirondel Association, Friends of the Earth Aragon, Un paso Atrás association, and El Licinar association. These organisations were supported by different local administrations: the Comarcas Administration of La Jacetania, Alto Gállego, Sobrarbe, and Somontano de Barbastro; the city councils of Artieda, Biescas, Sabiñánigo, San Juan de Plan, Boltaña, and Aínsa, as well as the Somontano of Barbastro's Studies Centre. The project has been coordinated by the Centre for Rural Studies and International Agriculture (CERAI), with support by INTERHES to advise the methodological and applied research.
Although the project MIncha d´Aqui is not officially linked to any particular SDG, it represents a clear commitment to reinforce rural production networks as well as the local consumption and rural communities. Thus, we are delighted to have collaborated in a project of such relevance for local development and for its contribution to the implementation of the SDGs 11 and 12. Those outcomes are achieved by supporting sustainable agro-food production and consumption and we will work on the following year to analyze such links.
There are three important aspects that we would like to highlight:
- Since its inception, the design and implementation of the project was based on a participatory action-research approach. Building on that participatory approach, we identified the need to learn about each of the agri-food production and transformation projects that are incorporating sustainability criteria (environmental, social and economic). Also, to explore their challenges and problems, aiming at consolidating and generating synergies. Based on the collective design, the participants agreed that the project's outputs should be oriented to design a joint strategy to strengthening synergies among their initiatives.
- The interdisciplinary work achieved within the project's coordinators, and the way in which such interdisciplinarity allowed specifying ad hoc research instruments to the different forms of agro-food production. This process involved professionals who contributed with theoretical and practical knowledge from agronomy, veterinary, environmental education, social dynamisation, and administration.
- The project's implementers belong to the local region and know the territory, their actors and their dynamics. This aspect favoured close contact with gatekeepers and informants to gain access to relevant data.
The final report of the project strategy includes the details about the action-proposals that have been prioritised in the supra-regional meetings. Those proposals were worked collectively. We believe they are key in the strategy reflected and developed by the initiatives it the target territory. That is because they represent the implementation of concepts and theoretical values, as well as a general diagnosis of the pyrenean territory.
In future entries in this blog we will refer some of the project's outputs which serve as decision-making instrument regarding local agro-food production.
You can learn more about Mincha d´Aqui here
Patricia E. Almaguer-Kalixto & Oscar Alvarez-Macotela
[*] Somontano is the region located on the side of a mountain.
image: courtesy of Mincha d´Aqui project