Drought and demographic change put at risk the Iberian ham value chain in Spain

Dec 5, 2022

Author: Marta Baena (UCO)

Editor: Miranda García (AEIDL)

On 29 November, the University of Córdoba, coordinator of the Sierra Morena Reference Region, organised a workshop to discuss with local actors the vulnerability and resilience of the Iberian Ham Protected Designation of Origin Los Pedroches value chain. This is the third meeting held by the University of Córdoba and the representatives of this value chain. 

Led by Mar Delgado, coordinator of MOVING, and Carmen Maestre, a researcher from the University of Córdoba, the workshop aimed at analysing the main threats that the Iberian Ham PDO Los Pedroches has to face. 

Among these, participants highlighted drought. Drought has a huge impact on the pasture, both in terms of acorn production – key to the survival of the Iberian ham – and in problems related to soil quality, causing greater erosion and weakening of its microbiota, or with the loss of biodiversity.

Demographic change in the territory was also remarked as a threat. The depopulation of rural areas due to a lack of opportunities for young people entails a problem in the generational replacement of livestock farms.

Likewise, the price of resources (such as energy, feed, fuel, etc.) needed to produce food products has been pointed out as another threat to the sector. Even though local actors work to decrease their use, the dependence on external inputs still causes prices in the value chain to increase out of their control. The change in land use or in the market, and the tendency for large capital to enter this sector, displacing traditional farmers and dryers, were also mentioned. 

Regarding threats related to political and institutional factors, the debate focused on the need for subsidies and incentives to recognise the reality of the pasture. In this sense, changes in legislation and in the political system need to be implemented to meet the demands of the sector.

Finally, participants have evaluated the level of exposure of the value chain, the impacts that these threats entail for the productive system, and the adaptive capacity of the sector against them.

You can read this article in Spanish here.