Author: Marta Baena (UCO)
Editor: Miranda García (AEIDL)
We interviewed Antonio Manuel Conde López, a young farmer and 2nd year student of the Master’s Degree in Agricultural Engineering at the Higher Technical School of Agricultural and Forestry Engineering (ETSIAM) at the University of Córdoba (UCO). He previously studied at UCO a Bachelor’s Degree in Agri-Food Engineering and Rural Environment with a mention in Agro-Livestock Systems.
Antonio is currently developing his Master’s Thesis in the Department of Rural Engineering, Civil Constructions and Engineering Projects in which he is participating in the LIFE Agromitiga project. His previous professional engagements have always been geared towards looking for sustainable solutions to improve the health of the agricultural soils.
Q: What drives you the most about what the MOVING project is doing?
The creation of synergies between different actors involved in the rural environment. I believe in a rural environment teeming with professionals who have scientific-technical and socio-cultural tools to give added value to mountains and everything that surrounds them. MOVING does not focus on an individual local area, but goes further and has a great diversity of areas to study that expand throughout Europe.
Q: Which of MOVING initiatives seem more innovative to you with respect to other mountain projects?
I am not aware of any other initiative with the same goals of MOVING. Other initiatives focus more on socio-cultural issues, leaving behind the possibility of developing other points of interest such as the holistic that MOVING presents. As the project is analysing value chains and social-ecological systems and working on a much larger scale in terms of diversity of territories.
Q: How do you think MOVING can help mountain value chains?
There is a lot of expectation with the different outreach activities that will be carried out in this project, particularly around increasing the sustainable use of the territory and of a viable economic model to develop mountain areas.
Q: How important is this to value these production systems?
The outreach activities that are being explored by MOVING would give the possibility to actors such as farmers, tour guides, marketing agencies and industries to develop a product, whether tangible or intangible, with a “seal”. This will make mountain product to be recognized by customers. It will also have a significant impact in terms of increasing environmental awareness and the impact of man-made actions in mountain areas.
Q: Do you consider that this network of countries that has been established through MOVING is diverse enough? Are the participant European regions sufficiently representative?
It would always be difficult that the participating regions could have been completely representative given the scale and diversity of the European continent. Many mountain systems could have been potentially involved in this study, of course. Their populations has been able to conquer every last square meter of land where there is an opportunity to be exploited scientifically through more projects such as MOVING.
Q: How do you assess the three Spanish value chains chosen by this project?
Overall, I appreciate that these three MOVING value chains are a very good choice, because they represent not only that region, but many areas of the rest of Spain that have similar conditions. While it is true that these value chains have been the subject of other projects, they had different research angles. I think that perhaps it would have been more interesting to have carried out a more detailed study of the possible value chains elsewhere in in Spain in order to give visibility and the opportunity to participate those that are to lesser-known.
On the other hand, among the the participating value chains the one on the mountain olive grove system is very interesting. I come from another area very close to the Betic Mountain Range where the landscapes and culture for olive oil and traditional olive groves are practically identical. This study will be very valuable for the families of these and other similar areas. And I say families, because the value chain of this entire area is based in smallholdings cultivating terrains with steep slopes, which is not mechanisable at all. This means that large part of the operations that are carried out by manual and indeed family labour.
Q: Do you consider that creating these collaborative synergies is essential to achieve a more sustainable future for rural areas?
Of course, it is another point to consider. There are many of us who try to find ways to encourage citizens to have a more respectful attitude towards nature. This project will try to give visibility, to already established tools as well as developing tasks that will be implemented throughout Europe. It will be of great interest to the European Commission, as the world is in a serious danger in terms of climate change. It is these types of projects that give way to many more of us joining together to be more sustainable in all the activities we carry out daily and to value the power of nature, be it mountains, seas, rivers or parks.
You can read the interview in Spanish here.