Ten thousand hectares (almost 25,000 acres) of farmland will be auctioned in the next few weeks in Italy, by a newly created bank.
The Bank of the Lands will manage the sale of old farms, abandoned olive groves, wheat fields and unused institutional agricultural lands.
Most of those lands are in the regions of Basilicata, Sicily and Puglia. It is going to be a real challenge for buyers there to gather enough money to participate.
It has been described as a financial and agricultural effort meant to bring younger generations to farming and to attract women farmers.
The idea is to gather around €130 million ($141 million) from the auctions and to use that money to help the new farms begin operations, according to Ismea, the main Italian public institution devoted to the agricultural market. The money collected from the sales will be entirely dedicated to financing the development of new farming projects.See Also: Olive Tree Cultivation
One of Ismea’s goals is to create larger and possibly stronger agricultural enterprises. On average, the new farming lots, groves and fields will have an area of 26 hectares (64 acres) — three times the current average area of 8.4 hectares (20 acres).
The success of the initiative will not come easy, farmers have warned.
“Looking at the offers on the table, the largest auctions are located in southern Italy,” an Italian farmer, Armando Maiorana, told Olive Oil Times. “Most of those lands are in the regions of Basilicata, Sicily and Puglia. It is going to be a real challenge for buyers there to gather enough money to participate.”
The usual and known hurdles in putting together investment capital in those regions should be overcome, proponents hope, by the scope and means of the initiative.
While the sales are open to anyone, some buyers will be able to access subsidized mortgages that will cover the purchase costs up to 100 percent.
Fiscal incentives for at least the first two years of operation were also announced for the new farmers by the minister of agriculture, Teresa Bellanova.
The initiative is the third such auction by Ismea, but this is by far the largest one.
Raffaele Borriello, head of Ismea, explained that many farms on sale “are ready to be put to profit. Some have means and are in conditions that will make it easier for new farmers to reach the market.”
While the restoration of old farms is part of the game, the bet is on the energy and the skills of a younger generation of farmers.
“Everyone we met to talk about this project has shown us good ideas and investment strategies,” Borriello said.
The complete list of the farming lots on sale has been made available on the bank’s website with the specific characteristics of every lot.
The participants interested in placing offers to one or more farming lots will have to register them between April 27 and June 11.