Reference Regions

Reference Regions » Swiss Alps (Switzerland)
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Swiss Alps (Switzerland)

Description of the Reference Region

The Grisons Alps are located in the southeastern part of the Swiss Alps and have several borders with other cantons and foreign countries.

The main economic sectors are energy production (mainly from water), tourism, secondary sector and agriculture. Mountain agriculture is essential for the permanent settlement of some valleys and it plays a significant role in shaping the landscape. Around 5% of the canton’s population is involved in agriculture and forestry, which allows for the cultivation of grapes and chestnuts in the south, alpine farming (mainly ruminants) in the high mountains and the cultivation of all kinds of arable crops in the northern Rhine valley.

Selected Value Chain

The selected value chain is mountain grain. It is representative of traditional highland farming practices, sometimes enhanced by innovative approaches to new production methods and marketing schemes. The value chain includes all common European cereals grown in an extensive land use system and is strongly influenced by the establishment of a local label guaranteeing origin and organic production.

The selection of this value chain is based on the desire to find ways to complement the region’s traditional animal agricultural production with sustainable plant products.

The label is established in a cooperative of farmers in Grisons who grow organic quality grain. Some 90 members benefit from the distribution of grain products through the label and from the exchange of knowledge within the network and with external partners. In addition to this label, there are some new and innovative projects in the region based on cereals and their products, such as beer.

Multi-Actor Platform (MAP) members

The Multi-Actor Platform (MAP) is still under construction and currently involves actors from all parts of the value chain such as government officials at cantonal and municipal levels, researchers, local nature park and – very important – representatives of the GranAlpin label, including grain producers. In the future, the platform hopes to include processing plants (mills and silos), tourism and gastronomy sectors, as well as local business actors.

Publications & events

Practice Abstract (2nd set): Scaling New Heights: Strengthening the Mountain Cereal Value Chain with collaboration, innovation and education for greater resilience (EN & DE)

Article: Development of the Swiss food system: a perspective from 2050

Article: A bright future for the Swiss Alps – Not at all?

Video: Vulnerability and resilience of mountain grain (DE & EN)

Article: Work progress in the MOVING’s Swiss Alps Reference Region

Policy Brief: Mountain grain

Practice Abstract (1st set): A future-oriented case of diversifying mountain farming through cooperative organic grain production


Gianna Lazzarini
Zurich University of Applied Sciences - Research Group Geography of Food.