Develop territory-based channels

Rural zones on the outskirts of Mediterranean countries are characterized by high unemployment, particularly among the young; poverty and low HDIs; a predominance of farming; isolation due to their distance from major economic and logistical hubs; and a lack of organization at both public and private level.  This social and economic rift – which generally separates coastal and inland regions in SEMCs – explains why the revolutionary uprisings of 2010-11 began in inland zones.  
SEMCs face two major challenges in this area. The first is to organize convergence between poor peripheral zones and relatively prosperous coastal zones; the second is to base this convergence on a participative strategy of sustainable rural development.

The concept of territory-based channels is particularly appropriate to tackle this two-fold challenge. It results from combining a spatial analysis (globalization of value chains) with a sectoral one (channels).
Globalization, which involves the liberalization of markets at planetary level accompanied by mass, standardized behaviour from consumers and companies, was initially widely followed, but has since been the subject of criticism and sometimes rejection. Globalization often goes hand in hand with the destruction of local cultures and identities and thus activities and markets, leading to the economic and social marginalization of numerous peripheral regions. This has spawned new interest in local aspects and “territory development”.

At the same time, the systemic and polymorphous (i.e. ecological, financial, social and technological) structural crisis that is inherent to extending the capitalist market economy shows that stakeholders are interdependent within production processes that focus on a particular consumer area (i.e. providing food, housing, clothing, care, education or protection), which highlights the notion of channels. The idea of channels comes from observing the upstream-downstream relations that emerge between operators in every growing economic system. These relations are technical (from production factors to finished products), established by market forces, and relation-based, in which case they involve analyzing inter-stakeholder coordination.

The combination of these two concepts in the current context has coined a new expression: “territory-based channels”. This concept has gained socio-economic clout with the “winning back” of local markets by SMEs, spurred by local consumers, and the creation of new markets (linked to national and international tourist flows). Both of these markets involve differentiating products by their geographic and cultural roots and specific quality. This concept fits in with SMECs’ need to secure an original strategic position given that, with the exception of Turkey, they cannot aim for the kind of cost-dominating strategy employed by the global agricultural and agro-industry leaders.