Local agro-food biodiversity
Due to the insular nature of the territory, over the centuries the farmers of the Balearic Islands developed a profound knowledge of their environment in an exceptional example of adaptation and self-sufficiency. A vast rural and agricultural culture was created, manifested in a huge biodiversity of food (quite unique compared to the rest of Europe). The farmer, the stockbreeder, the fisherperson and the artisan producer were at the core of local society, carrying out the vital function of guaranteeing food supply. At the same time, they all participated in the creation of both the rural landscape and the cultural identity of the islands.
But the boom of tourism in the 60s resulted in a change or transition from an agrarian economy to a tourist economy, with the subsequent loss of knowledge and rural wealth, and the erosion of local gastronomy, which had always been totally connected with the territory.
In more recent times, globalization has caused the islands to be in a situation of alarming dependency: more than 90% of the food that is consumed comes from abroad. To this we must add the agonizing situation of the agricultural sector, with farmers averaging 63 years old, and without a generation to follow in their footsteps. This situation could lead us to regrettable and progressive losses and eventually to a food crisis:
-Loss of self-sufficiency or food sovereignty.
-Loss of cultural and gastronomic identity, and changes in food habits.
-Loss of local seed varieties and agricultural diversity.
-Loss and erosion of the landscape, the environment and the rural world.
The Balearic Islands have one of the largest heritages of plant varieties of the Spanish state, as a survey carried out in 1951 revealed. On the islands they found, for example, 22 varieties of wheat, while today there are only 6 varieties left. The rest have disappeared.
The Associació de Varietats Locals de les Illes Balears estimates that there are on the island more than 850 unique plant varieties, although they are not all catalogued. Unfortunately, this important genetic heritage remains unknown to politicians and consumers.
Slow Food Illes Balears considers that we need to preserve this valuable heritage. If farmers disappear at the going rate, local plant varieties and animal breeds will disappear with them. This means opening the door wide to complete destruction of the landscape and the territory, amongst other effects.
Plant genetic resources that are at risk of genetic erosion: