The Portuguese Newbie team organized a national visit to different initiatives and projects of interest, instead of the programmed international exchange due to logistic constraints from the pandemic. The visit took place between the 14-15 July and we were joined by a Bulgarian delegation of four. The two-day program aimed to get to know different initiatives at the municipal level related to valorization of local products, short chains and “alternative” agricultural production, and gauge how these can contribute to a support mechanism for new entrants. More than learning about the initiatives individually, we were wanting to understand how they are coordinated and what is the role of the Municipality.
During the field trip we stopped in Marvão to heard about a challenged by its municipality to the School of tourism and hospitality of Portalegre to develop 2 recipes with the locally grown chestnut. This is not an isolated initiative but fits within a wider strategy to promote and value the chestnut.
In Idanha-a-Nova we visited different ongoing and just starting initiatives, including municipality led initiatives such as the agrifood logistic center in Ladoeiro and the Rural Base Incubator, the Colaborative Laboratory – food 4 sustainability, the association for alternative farming ARAA and its Centro Documental Raiano, and the Business Center, all lead by different non institutional organizations.
This diversity of initiatives and promoters is in part possible due to Idanha-a-Nova’s municipal strategy that has organic farming as a key stone to attract people and business to the territory. Having a strategy with clear pillars, allowed for a continuity in projects and initiatives, attracting other promoters, building knowledge and social capital needed to create enabling environments in marginal areas such as the visited territories. Local strategies also have the potential of taking advantage of local characteristics or products, further contributing to the development the territory.
Whilst coordinated and targeted policies support new entrants at higher level are needed and important, at the local level, municipalities can create robust support systems that benefit new entrants and agricultural players in general.
Interested to read more? You find a report from the Bulgarian point-of-view here.