Competitiveness of Portuguese Montado Ewe Production systems among the European Ewe Production systems
The number of ewes in Portugal registers a decrease since 1998. This decrease is felt particularly in the south of the country, which concentrates almost half of the existing ewes, mainly formeat production. One of the most important ewe production systems is the Montado, a HighNature Value ecosystem, occupying ca. 1.2 million ha in Portugal. The competitiveness of this system among the European ewe production systems is an important issue for the future of the Montado ecosystem. So, the objective of this paper is to analyze the ewe production systems in the Montado, using the agri benchmark database, and compare these systems with other European countries’ systems, ranking their competitiveness and efficiency among other systems in the European Union. We concluded that this methodology facilitated an in-depth understanding not only of the competitiveness and efficiency of ewe production systems in Portugal but also of their positioning regarding other systems in the European Union. The pattern of returns assures that these farms are competitive in the sense that they depend on the market on their decisions, and thus it is important that market values sheep products. Nevertheless, the diversification to other income sources would be a good option for the future sustainability of these farms and the opportunities and risks that these systems will deal with in a new green economy, with probable new functions and new opportunitiesfor land, will be a challenge for the future.