The article attempts to provide a theoretical discussion on territorial governance by presenting both the neo-institutionalist position and the De Sousa Santos’ alternative models, with a view of highlighting the dimensions that can be relevant to understanding the territorial dynamics of Local Agro-food Systems (LAFS). The paper aims to build up a system of indicators, structured in four dimensions, concerning the territorial governance of LAFS: (i) multi-level coordination; (ii) democratic participation and accountability; (iii) cooperation among producers and other stakeholders and (iv) relationships with the environment. We verify, as a hypothesis, that the typology of markets to which the identity-based products are directed plays a decisive role in the way that processes of territorial governance of LAFS are constructed. The results of an empirical research, developed in four LAFS in Mexico, are presented: prickly pear cactus in Morelos, blackberry in Michoacán, cuitlacoche (corn smut) in Tlaxcala and coffee in Veracruz. Two types of territorial governance of LAFS may be distinguished: those that can be strengthened by the geographical and organisational proximity of the markets and the action of local stakeholders and governments—prickly pear cactus and cuitlacoche—versus those which are devoted to export and are conducted by large companies in which marketing networks involve certification mechanisms and a large number of institutions—coffee and blackberry.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.