Strong connection with tradition is considered as an indicator of the sustainability of the production system. Tradition can be the basis for the continuity and development of farming activities, also in the case that no added-value products exist yet, as tradition and heritage can be a strong point where future add-value projects can be based. However, the same indicator could also be turned into to a drawback, if this is interpreted as unwillingness to change, depending on how farmers deal with tradition and how they valorize it. Taking this under consideration, this characteristic (of tradition or heritage) can be the element where development projects could be based, and the prerequisite that would allow such exploitation.

In the region of Ipeiros, the farmers that raise the local sheep breeds of Katsika (Karamaniko), and Kalarritiko, which are considered endangered and are under in situ conservation programmes, state that the main reason for choosing the specific breeds is their adaptation in the environment and the production system. The farmers express their strong belief on their breed’s special characteristics, both in terms of phenotype, but also on their quality characteristics. In these cases, heritage and tradition is considered as an important factor for the choice of breeds, along with the economic incentives they receive for the loss of part of their expected income due to the breeds’ smaller productivity.

However, although the farmers are very proud of the unique characteristics of their animals, this also means that they cannot trust other farmers using the same genetic material. There are different reasons that explain this belief, but the fact is that this is an indication of lack of coordination between the farmers themselves. Thus, they adopt a strategy of flock isolation in order to avoid any contact or exchange of animals, which obliges them to keep flocks of very large size and to manage the reproduction scheme by considering families when selecting rams, in order to manage inbreeding. Such practices have evident limits over time and generations, and the management of the breed is not discussed in the community of farmers.


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