The 11 of December of 2015, Dénia was designated Creative City of Gastronomy of UNESCO. A little over two years after that recognition and with many experiences behind it, the city has presented the action plan Dénia & Marina Alta #Tastinglife as the road map for the economy of the Marina Alta.
Those who know this project from outside affirm that Dénia and the Marina Alta "They know what they want to be when they grow up", and this plan is a sample of it.
On Monday, the conclusions were presented at an event held at the CDT that has counted with the participation of the regional secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, Francisco Rodríguez Mulero; Mayor, Vicent Grimalt, and the technical managers of the document, Floren Terrades and Vicent Martín, from the Office of Innovation and Creativity.
Precisely the Office of Innovation and Creativity has coordinated the work of the plan, which includes the contributions of all sectors involved in the project through qualitative research techniques such as workshops, panel of experts or personal interviews.
The study has been divided by thematic areas, which have yielded the following conclusions:
On agro-food production, the plan concludes that the agricultural map of the Marina Alta is formed, mainly, by citrus (one 48% of the total crop), vineyard, olive, almond tree and only a 1% of vegetables. The average age of the farmer is higher than the 50 years and the generational change is scarce. Other major challenges facing the region in this area is the abandonment of agriculture and the loss of knowledge and agricultural uses of great value that should be safeguarded.
To deal with this situation, the plan proposes the design of a product map where producers and consumers participate so that a framework of common benefits can be established. It also aims to promote the exchange of knowledge and experiences, collaborative structures to lower production and marketing costs or innovation in the production model.
About marketing of local products a lack of knowledge of the existence of the local product and where to buy it is detected, the disconnection between the productive system and the demand, or the lack of markers that differentiate the local product from the rest of the agri-food offer and that provide added value as a product of proximity.
The diagnosis proposes to identify the local product in markets and businesses with an identifier that differentiates it from the rest, increase marketing training and sales techniques for the producer and the processor, among others.
Another aspect that the plan addresses is the agri-food training in Dénia and the Marina Alta, where there is little demand for specific training from agriculture. The study also highlights that continuous and dual training is very scarce and that there is little coordination between training agents.
As a solution, it is proposed to promote a unified map of agrifood training in the Marina Alta that reflects the different needs and training demands; design a dual training model (training and practices at the same time), that training incorporates traditional products and recipes and that, through training, entrepreneurial values are promoted.
With regards to territory management, a population imbalance is detected in the region, with great differences between the coast and the interior that cause environmental and socioeconomic consequences. The action plan proposes that the agri-food sector acts as a rebalancer of the territory. Betting on the valorisation of the rural environment and the agricultural spaces of the region, request to involve the tourist industry in the recovery of the landscape and cultural territory and advises to promote studies on management and planning of the natural resources of the Marina Alta.
The plan also emphasizes the gastronomy. The plan proposes the compilation and dissemination of knowledge of traditional cuisine; pay special attention in the training of the room staff as a bridge between the kitchen and the client; offer ongoing training to professionals; active collaboration with vocational training centers, especially the CdT and IES Maria Ibars, or favor the creation of local product purchase structures to maximize time and costs.
All this to alleviate one of the great weaknesses that has been detected, the lack of time for the cooks to be able to devote themselves to researching, knowing and buying and the lack of scientific research with unique products of the Marina Alta that allows discovering their gastronomic potential.
La educative community It has been the one that has internalized the plan and the one that best knows how to transmit it. In this sense, we should highlight the start-up of school gardens, the Erasmus + "Youth 4 Food" and "Tastingschools" programs or the implementation of the figure of the farmer-trainer.
As future actions, we propose the use of traditional products and recipes in school canteens or encourage restaurants to banish the "children's menu" little varied and with a lot of presence of fried by specific menus of local products and traditional cuisine for children.
On tourism, the plan detects an increase in holiday tourism compared to residential and defends marking a road map to define the agrotourism and gastronomic tourism model. Likewise, it is proposed to promote interior tourism as an element of deseasonalization.
The entrepreneurs they form an important part of the plan. In this regard, the low level of existing training and a lack of communication and technological infrastructures necessary to attract investment and talent, as well as little associative fabric, have been detected. To alleviate this situation, the action plan proposes the creation of spaces to share experiences and knowledge that allow innovation in the agri-food sector; the creation of an agro-food cluster; promote a complete financial ecosystem and favor relations between entrepreneurs, business fabric, associations and other economic actors in the region.
Finally, the plan addresses the heritage. In this area, it is proposed to facilitate and promote active conservation; promote a creative cultural industry and practice institutional solidarity, so as to support municipalities that do not have the necessary resources to collect information and catalog their heritage.