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Report on Italian Research in Organic Food and Farming (2000–2005)

By Serenella Puliga, Annamaria Marzetti and Stefano Canali

Abstract

In Italy since the eighties, the scientific community opened a discussion on how to face many agricultural critical points, reconsidering old but renewed approaches to make agriculture more environment and consumer-friendly.\ud \ud In 1988 the first coordinated project on OF&F (Biological and integrated control of crop and forest pest and disease) was financed by MIPAF, involving 46 researchunits (research centres and universities).\ud \ud But it was only in the last decade that interest in organic farming really took off, when production methods continued to develop, along with consumers’ keen concern to be supplied with more wholesome, environment-friendly products. There was a major increase in the number of producers, and new initiatives got on the way for processing and marketing organic products.\ud \ud Italy has become the European country with the largest cultivated surface (954,361 ha, including 246,318 ha under conversion from conventional to organic farming, in 2004). The total surface is mainly cultivated with forage crops and pastures (48 %); the rest is devoted to cereals (20 %), fruit tree, including vineyards and olive-tree (18 %), vegetables and industrial crops (4 %). These data refer to land cultivated under provision of EC Regulation 2092/91 and its modifications.\ud \ud The gradual recognition of the organic farming potential to create a high added value food market and socio-economic benefits to farmers, producing positive effects on environment, public health, social and rural development and animal welfare as well, has driven the European Union and Italy to adopt specific legislation and promote research actions.\ud \ud The following different European acts issued after the Council Regulation 2091/92, have all recognized organic farming as a strategic tool to realize a sustainable development of European society: the Council Regulation EC 1257/1999 supporting rural development; the EU Commission Strategy for Sustainable Development in 2001, the Sixth Community Environment Action Programme in 2002 and, finally, the mid-term review of the Common Agricultural Policy in 2003.\ud \ud The European Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming (OF&F Plan) has been issued in June 2004, strongly supported by Italy during its EU chairing semester (June-December 2003). This document aims “to assess the situation and to lay down the basis for policy development in the coming years, thereby providing an overall strategic vision for organic farming’s contribution to the common agricultural policy (CAP)”. The Commission recognizes the dual key role of OF&F in food market and land management and the importance of research on organic farming and processing methods to exploit this potential (Action 7). Therefore, an important part of the country’s policies aimed at developing the organic sector has been addressed to strengthen research and training at different levels, adopting specific research programmes and farmers training to ensure the innovation transfer into agricultural practice with close cooperation among researchers, advisory services, farmers and the food production chain.\ud As other Member States and Regions, Italy has adopted a national Action Plan on OF&F research in 2002. The Action Plan was devoted mainly to the development of organic farming, focusing on agro-environmental programmes, market development, research and production capacity building.\ud \ud In December 2005, a new National Strategic Plan on OF&F has been approved which does not\ud include specific research priorities, but is a reference framework of actions to strengthen the whole OF&F production chain

Topics: Policy environments and social economy, Italy, Research communication and quality
Publisher: für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (BLE) / Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food BLE, Bonn, Germany
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:orgprints.org:8800
Provided by: Organic Eprints

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