EU Commissioner praises the Italian agricultural model: "A model for Europe"
Perr Wojciechowski, our system of cooperatives and small businesses should be "promoted in Europe" /Video
Four cornerstones to safeguard: security, stability, sustainability and solidarity. These were identified by Janusz Wojciechowski , the European Commissioner for Agriculture, during his introductory report to a round table on the introductory day of the State of the Union, underway in Florence until Saturday 6 May (read EFA News, an event organized by the European University Institute.
The Polish politician alluded to the challenges faced by European agriculture in the last three years, starting with the pandemic, up to the Russian-Ukrainian war. "To meet this responsibility - Wojciechowski recalled - the EU is providing humanitarian aid for over 8 billion euros to vulnerable populations in the period 2021-2024. Our role as exporters of food products is also fundamental: last year the 60 % of the EU's grain went to Middle Eastern and North African countries and 26% to sub-Saharan Africa".
Then there are the challenges of climate change by virtue of which, according to the commissioner (who mentioned the drought against which "many Italian farmers have to fight today"), the primary sector can seize the opportunities that come from carbon. "Our recent reform of the common agricultural policy - he said - includes stronger incentives to help our farmers adopt more sustainable practices, while maintaining their productivity. We are also driving research and innovation through the Horizon Europe programme, with a budget of around 9 billion euros for projects that promote new solutions for more sustainable food and agriculture".
Wojciechowski has repeatedly referred to the Italian scenario, underlining that "between 2010 and 2020, we lost 3 million farms in the European Union", of which "almost 300,000" in our country alone. From this perspective, the Common Agricultural Policy should help "maintain their productivity and competitiveness, while increasing resilience and sustainability, for example, through support for precision farming techniques", said the commissioner.
Although seriously wounded, the Italian agricultural system has all the credentials not only to get back on track but to become a model for the rest of Europe. In this regard, the commissioner mentioned some numbers: Italy holds 8% of the total agricultural area of the EU, nevertheless it covers 18% of total agricultural production. Not only that: in 2019, shortly before the pandemic, the value of Italian agricultural production was "almost 33 billion euros", against 31 billion in France, although France could count on 28 million hectares of agricultural land, more than the double of the 12 and a half million Italian hectares.
Wojciechowski indicated the Italian "secret of success" in a "well-organized system", divided into "small companies" and "cooperatives" with a "good synergy between farmers, the processing industry and the market". According to the commissioner "it is important that the EU maintains its leadership in food exports in the world" but the strategy is to "reduce distances", encouraging local economies and the "farm-to-fork" model. In this regard, "in Italy there is a good, well-functioning system that should be promoted in the rest of Europe", said Wojciechowski , indicating the objectives of "cost reduction" to the advantage of "quality".
An argument fully shared by the executive vice president of Bayer Matthias Berninger , speaking on the same panel, who, to the need for quality, added that of innovation: "Looking strategically at the food system also means that there must also be needs in terms of of innovation,” he said. To achieve the goal of sustainable agriculture and livestock, "I believe we cannot fall behind in terms of innovation", said Berninger , saying however he was "very confident" that "the EU will be more open to innovation in the future".
Watch the complete video of the panel "The Future of European Agriculture: Sustainability, Sufficiency, Security":
EFA News - European Food Agency