The ESSEDRA (Environmentally Sustainable Socio-Economic Development of Rural Areas) Project
Slow Food and High Nature Value farming
For almost 25 years, Slow Food has been trying to raise awareness that many traditional food products (whether breeds, varieties or processed food) are at risk of disappearing, victims not only of social change, globalization and industrial agriculture, but of inappropriate and unnecessary rules and regulations. Amongst other things, this threatens the agricultural biodiversity on which the future of the world’s food supply depends.
Given that many of the farming systems underlying these traditional foods are both low-intensity and highly dependent on semi-natural pastures and meadows – High Nature Value, in other words – it is not at all surprising that this analysis has many resonances with EFNCP’s view of the world. The overlaps are many and the integration of the objectives of the two networks is long overdue. The ESSEDRA project is the first concrete opportunity to make this a reality.
Meeting the challenges in SE Europe – why the ESSEDRA project?
Inappropriate rules and harmful policies are currently being introduced unthinkingly in SE Europe as part of the process of EU accession, helped along by a very limited view of ‘modern’ agriculture – few of the hard lessons of previous enlargements have been learned, it seems. At the same time, this EU harmonisation process offers the prospect of support mechanisms for traditional farmers and artisan producers, but these need to be activated and effectively delivered.
Challenging the policy juggernaut is difficult in every country, especially for marginalised farmers in the mountains and other disadvantaged areas. However, as the EU recognises, the problem is even more difficult in SE Europe, where civil society organisations are in general small and weak and governments have no tradition of constructive engagement with NGOs. With this in mind, the Commission is funding a range of civil society networks on a range of issues, from good governance in general to specific policies covered by the acquis communautaire.
EFNCP is part of the only network currently focussing on agriculture and rural development issues – the Slow Food-led ESSEDRA project. Launched in 2013, it aims to support the EU integration process by strengthening the capacity of and giving voice and visibility to civil society organisations which work in the fields of agriculture, rural development and food quality.
Working simultaneously in 8 countries of the region, the project takes a novel approach in which field work to identify slow food products and analyse the policy issues which are likely to affect their production not only works in parallel with capacity building on relevant legislation and policy processes and on advocacy, but also provides the real world examples which illustrate the regulatory and support issues. The resulting inventory of Western Balkan and Turkish endangered agricultural products will therefore be used to build the capacity of local civil society to advocate for the role of small-scale farmers in biodiversity protection and to promote concrete models and actions to preserve biodiversity.
Further details of project activities can be found on its Facebook page; details of selected events and publications will also be posted here.
© All photos from Slow Food Bulgaria
The ESSEDRA project partners:
Based in Italy, Slow Food International is the lead partner of the ESSEDRA project. Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment. Slow Food believes that everyone has a fundamental right to the pleasure of good food and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of biodiversity, culture and knowledge that make this pleasure possible. A non-profit member-supported association, Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.
The goal of the association is to discover, document and restore the rural culture including food traditions in different parts of Bulgaria and promote it as a part of the national heritage and an instrument for sustainable development of local communities.
Romania has many of the most important High Nature Value farmed landscapes surviving in Europe today. Since 2002, Fundaţia ADEPT has been working with farmers, local communities, universities, other NGOs, and government at all levels in order to solve the range of problems threatening the survival of these remarkable landscapes and of the small-scale farming communities living within them. ADEPT is carrying out an integrated programme linking economic and social benefits with biodiversity conservation, and raising local capacity for good management in the future.
VIS Albania is a branch of international VIS – International Volunteers for Development, with headquarters in Rome (Italy). VIS is present in Albania since 1995. Since then, VIS strategy has been oriented to sustain first of all Albanian children and youth, creating opportunities of care, formal and informal education and vocational training. Actions have been continuously developing in order to reach in a more qualified way a greater number of beneficiaries.
Okusi Hercegovinu is a Mostar-based network of associations of producers (cheese, honey, organic agriculture etc.) and individual small producers that plays a significant role in the promotion of the Herzegovinian agro-tourist product through the set-up of a great number of fairs and activities regarding valorisation of typical and traditional products.
Slow Food Bitola works to build a new gastronomic culture based on traditional Macedonian cuisine, various agricultural products from local farmers and knowledge to new generations.
Mutfak Dostları Dernegi-MDD (founded in 1991, Istanbul) is one of the leading gastronomy NGO’s in Turkey and the principal idea of its founding members was to promote, protect and support Turkey’s unique cuisine
The main objectives of MDD are to reveal and develop the richness of cuisine, beverages and food presentation manners through scientific research; as well as organizing seminars, panels, gastronomy fairs, lotteries, ballets, concerts, conferences, excursions, contests, exhibitions, implementation works and similar activities to promote local cuisine both in Turkey and abroad.
NB is a non-governmental, non-partisan and non-profit organization funded in Dimitrovgrad in 2000. The fundament of NB is the opinion that the conservation of nature has to be done through the conservation of the whole web of life – human and natural.
KINOOKUS (Cinetaste, founded in January 2010) is an association of 15 young professionals in the audio-visual, educational, scientific, artistic and managerial fields, coming together over projects that bring multidisciplinary and holistic approaches to questions of land and food, to new models of culture and society, and to the innate complexity of human beings.