Seasonal consumption of developing countries and the effects in the development
Which would the effect on employment and environment footprint be if Spanish households substituted imported fresh fruits and vegetables by local production? Is the impact similar for in-season and out-of-season local production? In this paper, we answer these questions using an environmentally extended multiregional input-output model (MRIO) for the monthly demand of in-season and out-of-season imported fruits and vegetables. To do so, we combine information from EXIOBASE, monthly data for traded agricultural products provided by the Spanish Customs Office and seasonal calendars of fruits and vegetables from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture. The innovative concept of seasonal avoided footprint by imports (SAFM) is used to compare CO2e emissions, water and employment from imported and domestic produce avoided by these imports on a monthly basis.
Our results show that in 2011 the Spanish economy has an environmentally efficient agriculture compared to most international competitors. Once the local and seasonal consumption of fruits and vegetables is temporalized, we obtain that for a significant number of months domestic consumption would have a greater environmental impact in terms of CO2e emissions and particularly water, but it would improve agriculture employment in Spain. This substitution would however cause a greater reduction in employment in the rest of the world, due to developing countries being more labour-intensive.
By analysing the positive and negative effects from in- and out-of-season consumption of fruits and vegetables on employment and the environment, we can identify if there are countries and products whose (SAFM) provides a hotspot, positive (or negative, respectively with the options in parenthesis) to the extent that their trade is highly (or barely) detrimental and, at the same time, represent a small (or large) part of the value of imports, so that several benefits could be achieved by changing (or keeping) these trade relations.