Fair price campaign: promoting equitable prices for high value agricultural products


Members of FAO’s Mountain Partnership, together with key Italian organizations working on social issues, equitable financing and conservation, met at Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture in Rome on Monday to address the challenges involved in achieving fair prices for agricultural products and encouraging consumers to make more informed choices.

The conference, convened under the theme: “A fair price for quality agricultural produce”, sought to tackle the issue of decreasing food prices, which often drive consumers to buy cheaper rather than better quality items. With the trend for promoting discounted food at an all-time high, the challenge of selling ethical and organic products has become increasingly difficult.

The event, promoted by the Mountain Partnership, brought together Mountain Partnership Members, organic retailer NaturaSì and Slow Food, as well as Banca Etica, Legambiente and GOEL Gruppo Cooperativo. Talks centred on how to dispel the myth that cheaper food is the best option for buyers.

The price tags of agricultural outputs are continually falling and so too are the final profits of those working in agriculture, making it difficult for them to make a living and sustain soil and environmental conservation. “Because of their isolation, producers in mountain areas often have limited access to markets, extension services, credit and information. The high number of middlemen across the value chain means that they do not always obtain fair compensation for their labour,” said Giorgio Grussu, Project Coordinator of the Mountain Partnership Products initiative, which is funded by the Italian Development Cooperation and run with the support of Slow Food.

The “Mountain Partnership Product” label was launched in 2016, with the aim of helping producers to achieve better trading conditions while preserving local production methods and cultural traditions. The voluntary label for mountain goods is intended to promote products as distinct and sustainable to boost their appeal to consumers.

Ensuring products are of high quality, environmentally sustainable and that local biodiversity is conserved is central to the Mountain Partnership Products Initiative.

"Despite their rich culture and environmental heritage, mountain communities remain economically marginalized. In order to improve rural development we have to support smallholder producers around the world," Grussu added.

A variety of goods ranging from coffee to tea and spices are already being marketed under the label, which is available free of charge to producers following a review of their products and production methods.

Mountains Matter for the sustainable development of the planet.

Almost one billion people live in mountainous areas, and over half the human population depends on mountains for water, food, and clean energy. Still, mountain ecosystems are threatened by climate change, land degradation, over-exploitation of natural resources, and natural disasters, with far-reaching consequences.

“Sustainability is not just about protecting the environment, it is also about building a production cycle allowing individuals to generate an income from nature. It is absolutely essential that we do this in mountain areas, which are exposed to the impacts of climate change far more than other regions,” said Coordinator for the Environment and Head of the Science-Policy Interface of Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Grammenos Mastrojeni.

The Under-Secretary of the Ministry Of Agriculture, Alessandra Pesce, concluded the event highlighting that “it is necessary to conserve the agricultural activities in mountain areas, since the protection of the territory and the conservation of the environment are threatened by outmigration.”

Products carrying the mountain label are available in organic stores and speciality shops in several countries, including Bolivia, India, Mongolia, Nepal, Kyrgyzstan, Panama and Peru. A second stage of the project, which will begin later this year, will bring in Guatemala, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Rwanda.

The initiative combines the technical know-how of FAO’s Mountain Partnership in addressing highland-specific challenges with the experience of Slow Food and NaturaSì, which help to conserve and market traditional crops and products at risk of disappearing.

Among the flagship items already being traded are Jumla Beans from Nepal, a rare black amaranth grain produced in the Bolivian Andes and pink and purple rice cultivated by farmers in India’s Himalayas.

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