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Help us design the project Manifesto and Action Plan and create the rural Bauhaus laboratories for the social economy by contributing to the collection of best practices!

Horsal- Spain #

Horsal is a cooperative orchard located in Galicia, one of the northernmost autonomous communities, with a humid climate. It faces competition from the large productions of southern Spain, which are major exporters to the European Union. Horsal’s strategy is focused on supplying the Galician food chain with fresh and local produce varieties. The cooperative aims to reverse the trend and provide the Galician market with sustainable and high-quality products. Horsal has launched a sustainability initiative, reducing the use of phytosanitary products by over 50% and introducing organic production in the Galician market, even in the convenience food range.

Southern Spain and Levante are major producers of fruits and vegetables, with more than two-thirds of the production of large producers being marketed in major international markets. Thus, it is challenging to produce orchards in a northern autonomous community with fewer daylight hours. Horsal’s strategy focuses on the production of native products, such as Padrón peppers, which represent more than 20% of the 30 vegetables produced by its 100 members in Galicia.

 The cooperative’s differentiation strategy is based on freshness (collection and market placement time), proximity to food distribution (retail), reduction of pesticides by more than 50% in conventional production, and introduction of organic production in food supply, protected by certificates such as Global Gap.

Problem addressed #

The problem addressed was the near disappearance of orchard production for consumption of regional products in the cities of Galicia, due to the intense competition from the southern and eastern regions of Spain, as well as Morocco. Despite this, Galicia still imports fruits and vegetables from other regions of Spain, Portugal, and Morocco to meet over 50% of its consumption needs.

Objectives & implementation #

The strategy of Horsal has focused on differentiation through quality standards. This includes promoting the production of native varieties, quick supply from the field to the table, reducing the use of phytosanitary products by over 50%, and offering organic orchard products. As a result, Horsal has become the main supplier of regional vegetables to Galician cities, preserving the traditional flavors of native orchard products and reducing their environmental impact by over 50%. This is achieved through the proximity of production and consumption, shortening the time between harvesting and serving, enabling the consumption of fresh local products, and incorporating local organic production into the Galician food chain.

Stakeholders #

The main beneficiaries of the maintenance of local flavors and local products in Galicia are the urban populations of the cities. Meanwhile, rural populations often have access to home vegetable gardens and can more easily access these productions.

Timescale #

Horsal has been implementing its strategy for more than 20 years.

Fields of application #

The main area of application for this best practice is the food sector, specifically orchard products, which aims to promote local production and consumption, reduce transportation, decrease the use of allowed pesticides, and incorporate organic local products into the distribution network in Galicia.

Impact & Results #

The impact and results of this project include the revival of orchard products for consumption in the Autonomous Community of Galicia, resulting in a lower impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The project has also encouraged local consumption of quality, sustainably sourced food.

Results of the World Cafè analysis #

Weaknesses #

Horsal, being an orchard cooperative, faces several weaknesses in its commercialization strategy. One of their main challenges is the dependence on large supermarkets as their main buyers, which goes against their ideological preference of selling through alternative companies or retail channels. Another weakness is that the local production capacity is not sufficient to meet the demand of the entire population of Galicia. This raises concerns about the future sustainability of the cooperative, as losing a mass consumer store as a buyer could result in their downfall. Moreover, they also face challenges from intermediary companies, who may affect prices and affect their operations.

Strenghts #

The strengths of the co-operative organization lie in its decision-making process where members work together to achieve the same goal. One of the benefits for farmers is payment security. The short supply chain ensures fresh and quality products are delivered with immediacy, making the cooperative competitive in terms of service, price, and variety. The model also contributes to ecological benefits, reduces the use of pesticides in production, and is beneficial for rural development and population. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the local consumption model proved to be advantageous as it provided fresh and quality food despite difficulties in transportation. Additionally, the increase in companies interested in commercializing organic and local products, as well as local cooperation, further strengthens the strengths of the cooperative.

Replication potential in different countries #

The replication potential of this project in different countries is high as consumers are showing growing interest in organic products. Sharing this good practice in other countries is relevant as there is a growing recognition of the importance of reducing pesticide use and returning to more natural methods of production. However, in some countries, the requirement of legal assistance, such as documentation, may pose a barrier to working with certain buyers and may require support to overcome.

Possible implementations through the New European Bauhaus and digital transition #

The New European Bauhaus and digital transition can play a vital role in addressing some of the weaknesses of the best practice and facilitating its replication in other countries. To achieve this, promoting a change of mindset regarding the true value of this form of production is crucial. Education and raising awareness among students, educators, and trainers is important, as is involving retired farmers to share alternative ways of producing. Companies should also encourage the consumption of local products and highlight the benefits to the ecosystem. The future cooperation with other organizations from other countries and increased public awareness and concern for the environment and sustainability will also contribute to the replication of the best practice. The involvement of people from different professions and public administration is necessary, as well as a systemic approach to thinking.

Role of the social economy sector in promoting & improving the best practice #

The social economy sector can play a key role in promoting the best practice by aligning with its principles of cooperation, sharing benefits, taking co-responsibility and caring for the environment. These organizations can contribute through education and training programs, as well as through their strong commitment to their local region. In addition, they can explore future cooperation with other social economy organizations from other countries to further advance this best practice.

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