Assessing vulnerability, sustainability, and resilience in mountain olive groves of Spain

Dec 7, 2022

Author: Antonio Zafra (ADEGUA)

Olive tree is a crop with a long tradition in Andalusia. It has a notable presence in the mountainous areas of the Betic System (Spain), where the Organic Mountain Olive Oil value chain encompasses a wide range of interlinked activities and functions. 

The olive oil value chain in the Betic System is the focus of the work coordinated by ADEGUA (Asociación para el Desarrollo del Guadajoz y Campiña Este de Córdoba) within the MOVING project.

Recently, a workshop was held to assess this value chain’s vulnerability, sustainability, and resilience to climate change. Participants to the workshop discussed threats affecting the olive oil value chain in the region and its capacity to adapt to the changing climate. 

Participants agreed that many of the preconditions for adaptation to climate change can be activated. For instance, when it comes to the territorial capital, the activation of these preconditions is framed in a context in which we can observe:  

  • An unequal correlation of forces between more conservative and innovative actors.
  • A context of evident political and media pressure from groups linked to intensive and agro-industrial production systems.
  • An environment of lack of strategies and political and sectoral leadership. 

Local actors can reasonably trigger a better adaptation of the Organic Mountain Olive Oil value chain in most of the cases, except in some cases, subject to constraints and limitations. However, local strategies and greater sectoral and territorial articulation would be very positive. 

Finally, it seems clear that harnessing this adaptive capacity enhances the possibility of addressing the threats presented without disrupting the functioning of the value chain. In some cases, the transition of some changes may entail certain productive losses in the short term, but it is intended to stabilise results in a more sustainable way in the medium and long term.

Some final considerations of the attendees were: 

  • Keeping these olive groves alive means keeping the villages alive, benefiting society. It is an essential territorial good and even more so when talking about the organic mountain olive grove. Even if it is difficult, keeping this agro-ecosystem alive is a challenge worth attempting.
  • University education preferably teaches agro-industry management as a solution, and there is knowledge that is not taught, which is linked to the regenerative tradition, and, to a large extent, organic farming is not sufficiently considered. 

A similar workshop will be also organised in all the MOVING Reference Regions. Partners will also develop Digital Stories from each reference region to summarise the use cases in a friendly way to share and raise awareness of the results.

Watch the video with key messages from the workshop!