Understanding Italy’s role in climate change and organic production – ISMEA & Lazio Regional Government

DSC_0411During our first study visit in Rome (01-02/12/2015), we met with representatives from ISMEA and the Lazio Regional Government. The role of the Italian public institute ISMEA (Institute for agro-food market services) in the implementation of EU policies for climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as the contribution of agriculture to the reduction of GHGs was elucidated with a presentation from the Director, Mr. Zaccarini Bonelli. Italy’s target on reducing the emissions by 6.5% compared with 1990 has been achieved for the commitment period 2008-2013, according to the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, during the period 2008-2012, the agriculture sector reduced its emissions with an average of 15.5% compared to 1990 and this was achieved due to economic crisis, with farmers changing and adapting their practices. Even though in EU, there is a conflict about organic farming, the EU subsidies on integrated production have been reduced in order to support the development of organic agriculture.

Mr. De Ruvo followed with a thorough presentation of specific data on the structural and consumption trends of organic products in Italy. It is of note that the south Italy (Sicily, Puglia and Calabria) has the highest organic production whereas most sales are in the North and it is of concern of how this impacts climate change. The families’ purchasing power decreases, their propensity to save increases and consumer habits change towards wellness-oriented food consumption (less animal protein, more fish and vegetables). The most popular categories of organic products in Italy are cereal derivatives, fresh and processed fruit and vegetables and recently there has been an increase in sales of organic poultry and pigs.

Finally, Mr. Guido Bronchini, the Head of the Organic Farming Unit at the Lazio Regional Agriculture Directorate stated the importance of the IT regional registry system, on which all recognized organic farmers in the Lazio region are included. The system allows for the accurate logistical balance of organic product commerce activities that are recorded in detail. Also, it was noted that the communication and outreach activities are important, and in Lazio region these involve:

  • Exhibitions (SANA, BIOFIERA, etc.)
  • Organic distributors in schools and public administration offices
  • Organic products in Rome school canteens (Agreement between Rome Municipality and Lazio Region)
  • Thematic meetings in primary and secondary schools
  • Delivery platform of organic products at the CAR (Rome Agribusiness Centre)

Based on the above, the example of Italy could apply to Cyprus by the implementation of some actions:

  • Adaptation of farmers’ techniques towards to sustainability
  • Shift of the consumers’ attitudes towards a health-oriented diet
  • Application of a registry system that includes all certified organic farmers and shops
  • Communication activities for the public, which provide information and easier access to organic products