Isabel Dinis, Pedro Mendes-Moreira, Susanne Padel


Vale do Sousa is a heterogeneous territory located in the North Region of Portugal. Until a few decades ago, the economy was based on small-scale farming with maize for bread (Broa) as one important crop. Each community had its own maize varieties and practices, which were reflected in the composition, shape, size and flavour of local Broa.  In the last decades, the abandonment of agriculture was noticeable, leading to a progressive decrease in maize production and to genetic erosion.  More recently, local stakeholders became aware of the important role that landraces and biodiverse food can play in local development and have engaged in finding new opportunities for a sustainable Broa value chain development in Vale do Sousa region. This paper aims at identifying opportunities and bottlenecks in the marketing of regional Broa. It uses a case study approach that, unlike the majority of the research in this area, covers the whole supply chain and includes needs and expectations of farmers, processors, consumers and their networks. The main problem identified by local actors is that traditional varieties are less productive, leading farmers to favour commercial maize varieties less suitable for baking. At the processing level, local actors raised the question of legislation, arguing that, in Portugal, European rules on food safety are not realistically applied to endogenous food products. The results also show that final consumers as well as restaurants recognize the quality of traditional Broa and seem to be willing to pay a price premium to reward farmers for using traditional varieties.

Keywords: bread; landraces; local development; maize; participatory research

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