`Italian Olive Farmers Have Until End of March to Claim New Funds - Olive Oil Times

Italian Olive Farmers Have Until End of March to Claim New Funds

Mar. 17, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Italian olive farm­ers have until the end of March to ask for their share of a €30 mil­lion fund ear­marked for recov­ery and inno­va­tion in exist­ing groves and to estab­lish new ones through­out the coun­try.

The Agency for Payments to Agriculture (Agea) will allo­cate a max­i­mum of €25,000 over three years to each project, cov­er­ing up to 70 per­cent of each pro­jec­t’s total costs. For each hectare involved in the projects, the pay­ment will be between €8,000 and €17,000. All financed projects will have to include at least two hectares.

We need to pre­pare a last­ing strate­gic plan for the relaunch of Italian olive grow­ing, and the €30 mil­lion call for the mod­ern­iza­tion of the groves is the first step.- David Granieri, pres­i­dent, Unaprol

Of those funds, €20 mil­lion will be ded­i­cated to mod­ern­iz­ing exist­ing olive groves, with the other €10 mil­lion aimed at plant­ing new groves. The goal of the new funds is to bol­ster olive yields in Italy, which have been sig­nif­i­cantly drop­ping in recent years.

Italian olive oil pro­duc­tion for the cur­rent sea­son is expected to reach 315,000 tons, sig­nif­i­cantly more than the 255,000 tons pro­duced in 2020/21.

See Also:Production Costs Set for Steep Rise in Italy

However, pro­duc­tion has trended down­ward over the past decade, with aver­age pro­duc­tion in the last five years reach­ing 281,000 tons, com­pared to the 502,000-ton aver­age recorded between the 2010/11 and 2012/13 crop years.

To access the fund, olive farm­ers will have to join an offi­cial pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tion and adopt pre­ci­sion farm­ing tech­niques, includ­ing the instal­la­tion of sen­sors in their groves. Additionally, the new tree plant­ing funded by the Agea will be lim­ited to local vari­eties.

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All requests will be exam­ined by Agea begin­ning in April. Requests for funds to help recover larger areas will be given spe­cial pri­or­ity.

The agency will also pri­or­i­tize higher den­sity groves, pre­fer­ring groves planted with 389 trees per hectare instead of the tra­di­tional 250 per hectare. The avail­abil­ity of irri­ga­tion for the new plants will also be con­sid­ered a key fac­tor for approval by the pub­lic agency.

The new funds come on top of the €300 mil­lion ded­i­cated last year to the recov­ery of olive farm­ers impacted by Xyella fas­tidiosa in Puglia.

The funds will also add to the recent intro­duc­tion of the revolv­ing pledge, a finan­cial tool that may help olive oil pro­duc­ers to inno­vate and become more com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket.

The pledge is only ded­i­cated to those pro­duc­ers whose extra vir­gin olive oil is cer­ti­fied with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) sta­tus.

With the new tool, more than 9,000 Italian pro­duc­ers will be able to sign new con­tracts with local banks to have imme­di­ate access to liq­uid­ity in exchange for recently-pro­duced or stored olive oil.

The pledges may be renewed each year by sub­sti­tut­ing the older pro­duc­tion with the lat­est pro­duc­tion, allow­ing pro­duc­ers not to sell their olive oil at dis­counted prices and wait for the best offers.

Italian pro­duc­ers believe that the new tool can sig­nif­i­cantly impact the sec­tor.

The revolv­ing pledge is already oper­a­tional, and we believe it is a tool that expresses wealth,” David Granieri, pres­i­dent of the olive oil pro­duc­ers’ asso­ci­a­tion, Unaprol, told Olive Oil Times.
The fact that the oil can be given as a pledge to mod­u­late a finan­cial receipt is a nov­elty for our indus­try. It means giv­ing value to the prod­uct and wealth to the ter­ri­tory.

The impact could be deci­sive because, thanks to the pledge, we can con­cen­trate the cur­rent sea­son’s prod­uct and avoid spec­u­la­tion,” he added. The pro­duc­ers’ reac­tions can only be pos­i­tive because the new tool could sig­nif­i­cantly reduce the com­mer­cial dif­fi­cul­ties and allow those who pro­duce qual­ity to enhance their work.”

The revolv­ing pledge has been pre­vi­ously made avail­able to the wine sec­tor.

According to Giuseppe L’Abbate, mem­ber of the agri­cul­tural com­mit­tee at the House of Representatives and for­mer under­sec­re­tary to agri­cul­ture, the exten­sion [of the revolv­ing pledge] to the olive oil sec­tor is very recent, and we are wait­ing to mea­sure its effects from the first oper­a­tions that have just begun.”

In just a few months, such tool had a very rel­e­vant impact on the wine sec­tor, where it slightly exceeded €60 mil­lion even if pro­duc­ers already had access to many other finan­cial tools acti­vated dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­demic,” L’Abbate told Olive Oil Times.

According to Granieri, we are on the right track. We need to pre­pare a last­ing strate­gic plan for the relaunch of Italian olive grow­ing, and the €30 mil­lion call for the mod­ern­iza­tion of the groves is the first step.”

Other ini­tia­tives must nec­es­sar­ily fol­low to make up for the lost time and relaunch as it deserves the pro­duc­tion of qual­ity Italian extra vir­gin olive oil,” he con­cluded.



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