LEADER (Local Action Group for Rural and Fisheries Development of Ibiza and Formentera)
Could you briefly introduce us what are the local Action Groups and the LEADER program?
Local Action Groups (LAGs) or Rural Development Groups are non-profit public-private associations, with assembly and district operations whose main function is to design, implement and manage Local Participatory Development Strategies (LPDS).
The LPDSs seek to satisfy the economic, social and environmental needs of a determined region, as well as to reinforce and increase its potential through its endogenous resources, that is, the territory itself.
To make it possible they study weaknesses, threats, strengths and opportunities of the area, involving locals, taking in account their knowledge of the area and the importance of their participation in its governance. The strategy is developed jointly, involving the community in its development. These strategies are part of the so called LEADER program.
What is the main task of the group and its purpose?
The main task is the management of local rural and fisheries development strategies and projects. The main goal of the LEADER Regional Program is to strengthen the weak points of the economic and social fabric of the territory, among which there is the primary sector (agriculture and fishing), actually facing a strong regression. As well as the promotion of original strategies of sustainable and quality development in the rural and fishing environment of the Pitiüsas (Ibiza and Formentera islands).
Leader Local Action Group works together with other entities, organizations, cooperatives, etc., right?
Indeed, it works jointly and in collaboration with the Consell insular d’Eivissa, Consell de Formentera, Ayuntamientos, Fishermen’s Guilds, Agricultural Cooperatives, the Associació de Dones Pageses and the Món Rural d’Eivissa i Formentera.
What is the Local Participatory Development Strategy and how did it come about?
This strategy arose from a process of participation of the most representative agents of the Islands of Ibiza and Formentera in the agricultural, environmental and social inclusion fields. These agents have defined the difficulties, opportunities, threats and strengths of their territory and jointly have prioritized those actions to be carried out within the strategy.
It’s main objective is to promote sustainable rural development of Ibiza and Formentera through innovation, participation and social inclusion, with agricultural, environmental and social agents strengthened by the development of their growth strategies, generating and managing in an efficient and sustainable way the resources…
To do it there are three strategic lines. Which are they?
Within the first strategic line that deals with the «Promotion of the competitiveness of the agricultural and livestock sector» the idea is to promote the differentiation and appreciation of local products of Ibiza and Formentera. Line 2 is dedicated to the «Conservation and sustainable management of natural, cultural and landscape resources». And the third strategic line is about «Strengthening organizations of social programs».
When you talk about the conservation of local varieties, which are the projects that Leader Group works on?
Among this projects we can name:
- The renewal, characterization, cataloguing and the conservation of the varieties of the Ibiza and Formentera Seed Bank.
- The agronomic improvement of local varieties, that has specific agronomic problems that make their introduction to the market almost impossible.
- The promotion of local varieties among consumers.
In your opinion, what is the importance of conserving traditional varieties?
I believe that they give value to the products of the land, inside theme there is a genetic material that has been selected for generations by local farmers.
Traditional varieties represent the richness of the agricultural biodiversity of our islands, and there are also uses and traditions associated with these varieties that are part of our cultural heritage.
They are varieties with the risk of disappearing. In order to try to keep this agricultural biodiversity, since 2005 surveys have been carried out in the Pitiüsas fields. Efforts have been made to recover them, one of them is their conservation in the seed bank of Can Marines agricultural experimentation farm.
This summer you did a promotion campaign in collaboration with the Consell d’Eivissa under the title of “Enhancement of Local Varieties of Ibiza and Formentera”. What has been your mission?
This project, called in Catalan «Posada en valor de varietats locals d’interès agrari de les Illes Pitiüses» aims to promote the differentiated commercialization of local varieties of Ibiza and Formentera. It is based on the estimates of productions of the agricultural holdings, and seeking that the owners of these holdings control the differentiation of the product and can obtain a significant part of the added value of this differentiation. The final goal is to favour the presence of local varieties in local market through their appreciation.
Which are these traditional horticultural varieties of Ibiza and Formentera that are being promoted?
The traditional varieties of agricultural interest that are marketed are mainly five in summer: meló eriçó, ceba vermella, white pebrera, penjar tomato, citro from matances. In winter the star product is the local cabbage.
How can we identify local varieties in shops and different points of sale?
To identify and to promote these varieties in shops and points of sale, we have created a distinctive label. There is also other informative materials, to aim consumers to ask for these varieties in local stores of the islands.
Why is it important to consume local products?
Agriculture to be sustainable has to meet the needs of present and future generations, while ensuring profitability, environmental health, and social and economic equity. Sustainable food and agriculture contribute to the four pillars of food security: availability, access, utilization and stability. And to the three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, social and economic.
Marina, it’s been a pleasure! Thank you for your valuable work taking care of our islands