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The tomato of the future: good, resistant and with an Emilia Romagna heart

Conserve Italia takes part in Va.Po.Re. to create a healthy and perfect product to be transformed

Creating the industrial tomato of the future: which is of high quality and resistant to diseases, which can be grown with less use of pesticides or pesticides, proving sustainable for the environment, for the territory and for the producing companies. This is the challenge taken up by the Va.Po.Re. "Evaluation, dissemination and introduction of new tomato varieties resistant to mildew and alternaria for the production of industrial tomatoes with a lower environmental impact and greater healthiness", an initiative carried out within the 2014-2020 Emilia-Romagna RDP in the Mis. 16.1.

The two-year project brings together Tera Seeds, a seed company from Gambettola (Fc) specialized in research, genetic improvement and reproduction of seeds that in recent years has introduced innovative and appreciated varieties such as Syraz, Cartizze and Rulander, Ri.Nova, institution of research in the field of vegetable production in Cesena (Fc), Conserve Italia, a leading company in Europe in the fruit and vegetable preserves sector and owner of the Cirio and Valfrutta brands, and Crea Of, an Italian research institution dedicated to agri-food chains. The project also sees the participation of Irecoop Emilia-Romagna (training body of Confcooperative), of the For.B Onlus social cooperative of Forlì and of various farms in the regional territory.

"The objective of the project", explain the managers, "is to guarantee processing companies a tomato that is, at the same time, of high quality, that guarantees excellent production yields and that is resistant to the two great fungal enemies of this tomato production: downy mildew and alternaria. In this way we will deliver to the industry a tomato that is good, healthy and sustainable for the environment, for the consumer and for the producing companies, both those engaged in organic production and those that apply integrated production regulations".

The so-called resistant varieties, in fact, guarantee some important advantages for farmers: they allow you to deal with pests and diseases even when it is not possible to carry out chemical treatments in the field, perhaps for climatic reasons, or because you choose not to do them. The first results are very encouraging. The researchers continue: "we started by planting 20 different genotypes of industrial tomatoes selected from hundreds of materials, the result of research already underway for years and, at the end of the first year of the project, we narrowed down the shortlist to 4 promising varieties we will carry out, in the coming months, even more in-depth tests from the agronomic point of view at the organic farms participating in the project".

The health of the plants in the field will be evaluated by Crea which will analyze the symptoms on leaves and fruits to identify the fungal strains really widespread in Emilia Romagna and identify the varieties effective in combating alternaria and downy mildew in the regional territory. On the other hand, Conserve Italia technicians will evaluate the qualitative results of the field tests: "through a series of laboratory tests, various quality parameters and the suitability of the different varieties to be transformed through industrial processes will be evaluated, pulps and sauces of the well-known brands Cirio and Valfrutta, true cornerstones of the Mediterranean diet and icons of Made in Italy. The analyzes will also demonstrate the greater safety and healthiness of products made with resistant varieties without compromising the chemical-physical and organoleptic qualities of the processed products".

The project also includes a training activity, organized by Irecoop Emilia-Romagna, starting shortly, with the aim of disseminating the results of the project and promoting the dissemination of agronomic practices implemented and perfected over time among Emilian romagnoli farmers. The training course will be aimed primarily at technicians and producers and will involve highly experienced teachers who will share new knowledge and techniques to manage tomato cultivation.

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EFA News - European Food Agency