According to Joaquim Lé de Matos, the process has two stages: the first related to preparing the application which will be done by their technical team and the second concerns fundraising to support the preparation of the process to be submitted to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

"We already have an identified team and right now we are in the fundraising phase. It is a costly process, but Estrelacoop is taking the steps so that this is a reality", said the responsible to Lusa during the inauguration of the 46th Fair of Cheese Serra da Estrela de Seia, in the Guarda district, which runs until Tuesday in the Municipal Market and in the surrounding area.

The president of Estrelacoop would like this year to close the process related to the technical team and the sources of funding of the application.

On the other hand, the work of preparing the application "may take a year and a half to two years".

"I even pointed to 2024 [that we already have the whole process complete, but it's all work [that's] still to be done, and we're going to work on that," he promised.

Joaquim Lé de Matos said he had already met with "potential people who will be part of the coordination of the technical and scientific team".

The purpose of Estrelacoop is to recognize the process of "knowing how to make" Serra da Estrela cheese, produced with sheep's milk from Serra da Estrela or Churra Mondegueira breeds, which dates back to the 11th century.

The responsible added that the application will involve all partners related to the production of the cheese Serra da Estrela DOP, including the Municipal Councils that integrate the Demarcated Region (Carregal do Sal, Celorico da Beira, Algodres Ovens, Gouveia, Mangualde, Manteigas, Nelas, Oliveira do Hospital, Penalva do Castelo, Seia, Aguiar da Beira, Arganil, Covilhã, Guarda, Tábua, Tondela, Trancoso and Viseu).

Estrelacoop, which is based in Celorico da Beira, in the Guarda district, is the DOP management group of Serra da Estrela and Serra da Estrela Velho cheeses, the Serra da Estrela curd and Serra da Estrela lamb.

The cheese produced in the mountains is in the spotlight until Tuesday at the Seia fair, where two dozen local producers participate.

According to the municipality, the event, with a total of 100 exhibitors from various areas, is dedicated "to the wide promotion of cheese and other local products" such as their bread, Dão wine, sausages and honey, handicrafts, wool, sheep and the Serra da Estrela dog.

Speaking to Lusa, three cheese producers acknowledged that the event helps to market the product at this time of year when the region is visited by many tourists.

Carlos Marques, of the são Gião cheese factory, said the fair "helps promote" DoP cheeses, which sells at 20 euros a kilo.

"The only guarantee that the consumer has is that the cheese originates from bordaleira Serra da Estrela sheep" he said.

Inês Pessoa, from Quinta da Pena cheese, which produces PDO cheese (sold at 22.5 euros a kilo) and for 15 euros without this certificate, said that the certificate is the most sought after, because, despite the current crisis, "people do not look so much at the price, but at quality".