Mountain products and services have great potential to improve livelihoods and boost local economies. Worldwide demand is on the rise for quality, high-value foods and beverages produced in mountain areas, such as coffee, honey, herbs and spices, as well as handicrafts, cosmetics and medicines. In addition, tourism -related services such as skiing, climbing, cultural heritage or nature trails that allow visitors to discover unique biodiversity are also some of the offerings provided by mountains and mountain communities. If sustainably managed, tourism can provide an opportunity for development in mountain regions.
Although small-scale mountain agriculture cannot compete with the prices and volumes of lowland production it can focus on niche markets and tap into the rising demand for sustainable, fair trade products. However, consumers cannot always distinguish mountain products from others when displayed in the marketplace. A global mountain label, supported by adequate value chains and marketing strategy, can allow small producers to obtain fair compensation for their specific quality products as well as help customers make a more informed purchase.
The Mountain Partnership Secretariat (MPS), in collaboration with Slow Food, has launched a voluntary label for quality mountain products to promote access to markets for small mountain producers in developing countries – in the framework of a project supported by the Italian Development Cooperation.
This global mountain label, supported by adequate value chains and marketing strategy, can allow small producers to obtain fair compensation for their specific quality products as well as help customers make a more informed purchase.
The label focuses on mountain goods that support local biodiversity and production methods that are linked to the cultural traditions of mountain communities. Each individual mountain food, beverage or handicraft item bears the label, telling its own unique story so that consumers can more readily see their mountain origin, quality and value.
More than ten products from six different countries have already applied to obtain the label - ranging from coffee from the Panamanian Central Cordillera to herbal tea and rice from the Indian Himalaya. Small-scale mountain producers and associations are eligible to participate in the Mountain Partnership Products Initiative. Those who wish to apply can download the terms and conditions for the use of the label and the application form from the right-side bar of this page.
This Initiative is part of a three-year agreement between FAO and Slow Food to promote more inclusive food and agriculture systems at local, national and international levels. The Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture is providing support with an Associate Programme Officer for two years.
The Mountain Partnership Product label was featured in a number of news articles, including Reuters Foundation and the New York Times. Access the articles through the following links:
o El País