Mountain products take the stage at the Origin, Diversity and Territories Forum


The Mountain Partnership Products (MPP) initiative was presented as an example of identifying, developing and improving value chains of quality food products, cultivated in fragile ecosystems, for creating employment opportunities during the Origin, Diversity and Territories Forum (Forum ODT).

The Forum ODT is an international platform for the exchange of experiences and knowledge on new ways of thinking about the development of rural territories, the interactions between cultural and biological diversity, and the products whose quality is linked to their origin. The objective of the Forum is to be a link between a wide range of international actors, all engaged in new ways of thinking and doing development, where local identity, origin, quality and diversity are catalysts for inclusive dynamics.

This year, the Forum focused on transforming local food systems through sustainable consumption and production, of which the MPP initiative is a great example. In his presentation during the workshop “Roles of market intermediaries and food processing actors,” Carlo Murer from EcorNaturaSì, Italy’s largest organic food retailer, discussed the importance of preserving and promoting mountain products and what the Mountain Partnership, together with partners like EcorNaturaSì, is doing to strengthen the resilience of mountain peoples, their economies and their ecosystems.

Explaining mountains' global importance and the connection between the highlands and the lowlands, Murer opened, "It's a fact of gravity. Everything that happens at high altitudes in the mountains sooner or later comes down and affects people living at lower altitudes, so we need to take care of the people living and farming in the mountains to protect ourselves as well."

Mountain farmers preserve many of the rarest cultivars in biodiverse ecosystems. However, the harshness of the environment as well as the effects of climate change increasingly pressure mountain communities to modify their traditional approaches to agriculture. To develop mountain farmers' skills in growing and marketing organic products to guarantee fair prices for farmers and equitable value chains for all, the MPP initiative is working with small-holder producers from developing countries.

"The main marketing strategy we are implementing is the differentiation strategy. We need to differentiate production in mountains from production in the rest of the world," said Murer. By communicating the peculiarities of mountain agriculture and the importance of preserving mountain ecosystems, the way consumers perceive mountain products changes and their interest increases.

Another important aspect of the MPP initiative is the preservation of biodiversity. Murer explained, "If we focus on a single cash crop, we will lose everything because farmers would lose the economic interest in growing other products. We need to focus on offering a basket of products to protect the biodiversity of those areas in the mountains, and we are doing this through linkages between the producers and the consumers in their communities because the consumers need a basket of products, not a single crop."

Following Murer's presentation, participants in the session discussed the relationship between organic agriculture and products with protected origins as well as the approach in the use of farmers' seeds in EcorNaturaSì's work during a question and answer session.

Visit the Forum ODT website
Learn more about the Mountain Partnership Products Initiative

Photo by Michelle Geringer

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