Accessing Common Land for Food: Policy Study

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Portuguese organic food consumption to meet national individual and institutional demand is swiftly increasing, notably triggered by Covid-19 pandemic. This increasing demand is an opportunity currently missed due to lack of land access for farmers. At this point, we claim that land availability needs to be centrally taken into consideration in the formulation of local and national food policies. In particular, we suggest: 1) policy options in order to make them inter-cross coherent, notably regarding land needed to achieve goals; 2) mechanisms to strengthen multi-level and cross sectorial food governance, with a focus on land accessibility for organic food production, in particular vegetables and fruit. Based on the municipality of Torres Vedras, as a pilot case, we conclude that local policies require a bundle of instruments which will vary from place to place. Nevertheless, local authorities have a key-role to play as facilitators for land access, primarily by identifying and mapping idle land either communal, public or private. That land should be made available to organizations and farmers willing to supply local schools, in priority, as well as local consumers . Results from field visits and local stakeholders interviews in Torres Vedras suggest that cooperation across city departments and local stakeholders could spearhead an integrated food policy that would turn idle land into the decisive element of a blooming local food system. In conclusion, any municipality can do this, if there is political willingness to start a collaborative process, within municipalities, to think strategically how to access land for food.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherLEAP – Policy Development Initiative, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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