In Italy, Farmers Unite to Compete With Multinationals

One of Italy’s largest agricultural firms has agreed to invest $200 million to provide more bargaining power and a larger pool of resources for independent farmers.
Jul. 30, 2020
Paolo DeAndreis

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One of Italy’s largest agri­cul­tural oper­a­tions, Bonifiche Ferraresi, has signed a new multi-mil­lion Euro invest­ment agree­ment with a wide net­work of agri­cul­tural orga­ni­za­tions asso­ci­ated with the Consorzi Agrari d’Italia (CAI).

As part of the part­ner­ship, Bonifiche Ferraresi has agreed to inject €170 mil­lion ($200 mil­lion) of cap­i­tal into the CAI. The goal is to help small farm­ers and pro­duc­ers retain bar­gain­ing power and pro­duc­tion auton­omy in a busi­ness envi­ron­ment increas­ingly con­trolled by large multi­na­tion­als.

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Seventy-five per­cent of the agro­chem­i­cals mar­ket and 63 per­cent of the seed mar­ket are con­trolled by just three global cor­po­ra­tions,” said Ettore Prandini, pres­i­dent of the major Italian farm­ers asso­ci­a­tion, Coldiretti. That means Italy must rein­force the Agricultural Consortia net­work, the only weapon farm­ers have to retain their bar­gain­ing power.”

The idea of the part­ner­ship is to fund a net­work of know-how and ser­vices, which will be avail­able to hun­dreds of thou­sands of farm­ers spread across Italy.

It can enhance the devel­op­ment and the com­pet­i­tive­ness of Italian agri­cul­ture in a sce­nario dom­i­nated by the over­whelm­ing power of the cor­po­ra­tions,” Coldiretti said. A power that endan­gers both food sov­er­eignty and bio­di­ver­sity in the dif­fer­ent coun­tries.”

The Covid-19 pan­demic has high­lighted the need for more coop­er­a­tion among the small pro­duc­ers of the Italian agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The global emer­gency caused by the coro­n­avirus has brought a new under­stand­ing of the strate­gic value of the food chain and its need for safety and cer­ti­fied qual­ity, but it has also high­lighted its fragili­ties,” Prandini said.

We need a whole national plan to defend the food chain and not to depend on imports in moments of such inter­na­tional dis­tress.”

Prandini added that the new part­ner­ship would extend to all cor­ners of the country’s agri­cul­tural sec­tor.

The new real­ity extends its oper­a­tions, from tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion to sup­ply chain con­tracts, from agro-energy to gar­den­ing, from the sup­ply of tech­ni­cal means to the pro­tec­tion of seeds at risk of extinc­tion,” he said.

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