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Spain’s Commitment to Food and Agricultural Sustainability

2571 words (10 pages) Essay in Environmental Studies

08/02/20 Environmental Studies Reference this

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ABSTRACT

Two of Spain’s farming system has just received global recognition.  These two systems are The Malaga Raisin Production System in La Axarquia and the Salt Production System in Anana.  These two systems are very different but have a long history and strong cultural values relating to producing items to help sustain Spain.  One system has issues using machines so it’s done by hand due to their steep slopes and the other system is like an underground vault of mineral, from a sea that disappeared many years ago. The raisin production system is providing a main source of employment through agriculture the issue is that some of the artisan and industrial jobs associated with this are in danger of disappearing[1]. The need of traditional tools, traditional knowledge and local knowledge is a must and is passed on from generation to generation.  Can they sustain in the future?  The Salt System is also a production system that is unique with a lot of tradition[2].  The difference with this system is that some areas in its production has evolved so a mixture of traditional with modern ideas.  Both farming systems rely a lot on the environment.  How does the weather affect these systems?  How does Spain benefit from these two systems? What does the future look like?  I do see a problem with the new generation not wanting to do the manual labor, but if this is what it takes to survive you do what you have to do.

 

 

RECOGNIZING TWO OF SPAIN’S SUSTAINABLE FARMING SYSTEMS

Spain has two systems that have recently been recognized as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems.  The two systems are the Malaga Raisin Production System in La Axarquia and the other is the Salt Production System in Anana[3].  Both of these systems receive a lot of support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment and are the first two in Europe to receive international recognition[4]. To be recognized by GIAHS they have to meet certain requirements, and were visited by a professor Mauro Agnoletti, an FAO scientist. He found that these two systems have ways to improve the modern agro-ecosystems. Both systems contribute to food security and favor local and national livelihoods[5]. These two sites have unique characteristics and have heritage representation of Spain’s agriculture sustainability.  The two systems also have a long history and strong cultural values that relate to their production systems, but now they also have historical designation being the first two recognized by the GIAHS from Spain.

The Malaga raisin is a variety of Vitis Vinifera, the oldest grape in the world.  Originating in Egypt and brought over by the Phoenicians.  It was later improved by the Greeks and Romans. The product has had improvements by little has changed in the process.  The Axarquia is one of the unique vintage in Europe. This agricultural tradition has been passed down from generation to generation, staying the same for centuries[6]. Difficult terrain do to Slope angling up to 60% requires all the work be done by hand, and some help from animals. Around mid-August the grapes are ripe and hanging low, the workers then start the climb with a wooden box on their shoulder and collect the fruit with just a knife and their hands. They cut them by bunches and place them in the box with the utmost care not to damage them.  Different from wine where the grapes are traded on, these have to be in perfect condition. Once boxes are filled they are transported back by mules.  Now remember that these hills are extremely steep that they are climbing and 1000s of acres, just as soon as you complete this they have to dry and tenderize the grapes.  Grapes are laid with great care on the ground and flipped at two weeks to dry completely in the sun.  Doing this 70 percent of the grapes water will have evaporated; in other words a dehydrated grape.  During this process the weather can be a challenge, if it rains or dew from the night air can rot an entire batch.  There is a tract of land that is located on dry farmland and topped with a headboard, and you can attach and awning to protect the grapes and at night they do cover them to some degree to prevent any damage. There are growers that steadily paying attention to the weather, change of temperature or any unusual occurrences. The raisins are then picked by hand, the best ones are packed separately and the others are moved to a different state a manual selection and picking. There are many women and men that sit around with scissors to separate the raisin clusters one by one, sorted by size, cleaned, prepared and packaged. Those lacking in quality are then used to produce vinegar[7].

The agricultural system of Valle Salado is a great example of humans and natural environment creating salt. This process also has been around for 1000s of years and has kept its traditional agricultural way of life[8]. The water from the springs, the steep slopes, the sun, and wind with traditional techniques has created a distinctive system, which is free from the waste materials that have ruined our natural resources[9]. This system is unique not only because of the man-made staggered terraces built over the years using stone, wood and clay, or the pans responsible for the whiteness of the salt, not even the fact that there are hundreds to channels distributing the salt water throughout the valley or that the springs provide salt from a former ancient sea or that it has led to the presence of saline biodiversity, it’s a combination of all of it. The mining and industrial component throughout the years is what has made the facility unique.  The wooden architecture of the terraces developed and improved on over the centuries by the salt workers has given the facility a way to improve and increase the salt production and is extremely rare[10]. This area is considered a “continuing landscape” which places an act role in today’s society the traditional way of life. The Valle Salado was not a planned construction but the result of evolution of a workplace and adapted to today’s needs. An example of this was the masonry walls and timber structures, waterproofing them were achieved with clay, and the salt production based on irrigation[11]. You pour a small amount of salt water on the clay and quickly remove the salt improvements to this was the construction of the evaporation pans. They fill these pans with 3-4 cm of brine and collect the product every two days. Improvements on the structures and walls have been done through the centuries they have also added pebble on the surface of the pans to improve the quality of the salt[12]. There is than a layer of cement added over the clay and pebbles to improve the quality of salt but this generated maintenance problems. They have now implemented a team of architects, archaeologist, historians, geologist, biologists, computer scientists, sociologist, and economists to come up with a plan to preserve the authenticity of this Valle[13]. Today the purpose is not to produce salt in bulk, but the reach the secular balance on which the valley has survived.  The activities have been a driving force in their economy of surrounding areas including agro-tourism activities, which now provides hope for its future salt workers and descendants. These salt production activities have contributed to development of the actual habitat and maintenance of the ecosystem.  Without the human activities the natural landscape and biodiversity would be profoundly affected[14]

Spain has food and agriculture companies that are committed to environmental management criteria which now have them looking at how to expand a concept of sustainability[15].  Discussing sustainability there are challenges like ending poverty, promoting healthy living, guaranteeing clean water and sanitation for all, promoting sustained and inclusive economic growth committing to gender equality and fomenting innovation[16]. The two systems are trying to promote healthy living and sustainability by using natural resources, local work force to manage their economic growth. An area of challenge is how to keep the traditions alive?  In today’s labor force there’s a disadvantage with young people, immigrants and temporary workers due largely to the result of their low skill levels[17]. Manual labor is an area people are trying to avoid.  We are always looking for ways to work smarter versus harder.  The future looks good for these two systems and hopefully they will find an easier way to do the workload[18]. Still a major factor that can’t be controlled is climate, which can effect both systems.  Spain has implemented things like greenhouse gas emissions, not meeting their goals yet but the trend is positive.  They are investing in both energy efficiency and renewable energy; important elements that could help improve the results. The droughts of recent years had caused some challenges for Spain like managing its scarce water resources.  As you know water, is as important to crops as it is to our bodies.  Water quality in many rivers is substandard; groundwater being used up faster than it’s being replenished, water use intensifying between households, agriculture, energy, tourism, industry and many other demands mixed in with climate change is making the competition fiercer. A cost-recovery approach to water pricing would help control the demand.  Not only would you be allocating water to its highest value use, but water utilities are now enabled to operate on a more financial footing[19]. There is still red tape they would have to go through to accomplish something like this and account for institutional changes and reactions of social groups that may be affected, but they are headed in the right direction and looking at ways to improve sustainability in all areas. The cities in Spain have big plans and great ideas on how to improve its sustainability and quality of life, of course the challenge is how to turn them into a smart and sustainable reality[20].

 

Bibliography

 

  • “Malaga Raisin Production System in La Axarquía.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48. http://www.fao.org/giahs/giahsaroundtheworld/designated-sites/europe-and-central-asia/malaga-raisin-production-system-in-la-axarquia/es/.
  • “Spain’s Commitment to Food and Agriculture Sustainability | Foods and Wines from Spain.” Foods and Wines from Spain. Everything You Should Know about Spanish Food, Spanish Wine and Gastronomy from Spain. February 15, 2017. http://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/food/features/feature-detail/REG2017733752.html.
  • “Sustainable Farming Systems in Spain, China and Korea Receive Global Recognition.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48. http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/1069903/icode/.
  • “The Agricultural System of Valle Salado De Añana.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48. http://www.fao.org/giahs/giahsaroundtheworld/designated-sites/europe-and-central-asia/the-agricultural-system-of-valle-salado-de-anana/detailed-information/ru/.
  • OECD (2011), OECD Perspectives: Spain, Policies for a Sustainable Recovery, Better Policies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264201736-en.
  • UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “Valle Salado De Añana.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre. January 27, 2012. http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5693/.
  • Hoteles, Fuerte. “The Most Authentic and Typical Product of Malaga: The Raisin.” Blog Fuerte Hoteles. December 20, 2017. https://blog.fuertehoteles.com/en/culture/the-raisin/.
  • ECA, Redacción. “The Raisin from Muscatel of La Axarquía and the Valle Salado of Añana, Important Systems of World Agricultural Heritage.” EComercio Agrario. November 28, 2017. http://ecomercioagrario.com/en/the-raisin-from-muscatel-of-la-axarquia-and-the-valle-salado-of-anana-important-systems-of-world-agricultural-heritage/.

[1] “Malaga Raisin Production System in La Axarquía.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48. http://www.fao.org/giahs/giahsaroundtheworld/designated-sites/europe-and-central-asia/malaga-raisin-production-system-in-la-axarquia/es/.

[2]“The Agricultural System of Valle Salado De Añana.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48. http://www.fao.org/giahs/giahsaroundtheworld/designated-sites/europe-and-central-asia/the-agricultural-system-of-valle-salado-de-anana/detailed-information/ru/.

[3] “The Agricultural System of Valle Salado De Añana.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48. http://www.fao.org/giahs/giahsaroundtheworld/designated-sites/europe-and-central-asia/the-agricultural-system-of-valle-salado-de-anana/detailed-information/ru/.

[4] ECA, Redacción. “The Raisin from Muscatel of La Axarquía and the Valle Salado of Añana, Important Systems of World Agricultural Heritage.” EComercio Agrario. November 28, 2017. http://ecomercioagrario.com/en/the-raisin-from-muscatel-of-la-axarquia-and-the-valle-salado-of-anana-important-systems-of-world-agricultural-heritage/.

[5] ECA, Redacción. “The Raisin from Muscatel of La Axarquía and the Valle Salado of Añana, Important Systems of World Agricultural Heritage.” EComercio Agrario.

[6]   “The Agricultural System of Valle Salado De Añana.” International Rice Commission Newsletter Vol. 48.

[7] Hoteles, Fuerte. “The Most Authentic and Typical Product of Malaga: The Raisin.” Blog Fuerte Hoteles. December 20, 2017. https://blog.fuertehoteles.com/en/culture/the-raisin/.

[8] “The Agricultural System of Valle Salado De Añana.”

[9] “The Agricultural System of Valle Salado De Añana.”

[10] UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “Valle Salado De Añana.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre. January 27, 2012. http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5693/.

[11] UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “Valle Salado De Añana.”

[12] UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “Valle Salado De Añana.”

[13] UNESCO World Heritage Centre. “Valle Salado De Añana.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre. January 27, 2012. http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5693/.

[14] “The Agricultural System of Valle Salado De Añana.”

[15] “Spain’s Commitment to Food and Agriculture Sustainability | Foods and Wines from Spain.” Foods and Wines from Spain. Everything You Should Know about Spanish Food, Spanish Wine and Gastronomy from Spain. February 15, 2017. http://www.foodswinesfromspain.com/spanishfoodwine/global/food/features/feature-detail/REG2017733752.html.

[16] “Spain’s Commitment to Food and Agriculture Sustainability | Foods and Wines from Spain.” Foods and Wines from Spain.”

[17] OECD (2011), OECD Perspectives: Spain, Policies for a Sustainable Recovery, Better Policies, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264201736-en.

[18] OECD (2011), OECD Perspectives: Spain, Policies for a Sustainable Recovery

[19] OECD (2011), OECD Perspectives: Spain, Policies for a Sustainable Recovery

[20] OECD (2011), OECD Perspectives: Spain, Policies for a Sustainable Recovery

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