|Italy Case Studies|
In the beginning of the 1980s organic production was mainly for export to Northern Europe, using foreign standards and certification. The importing organizations had little contact with the pioneers of the small and scattered organic movement. In 1983, at the event ‘Cos’è Biologico’ (‘What is organic?’), the need for common organic agriculture standards and certification criteria was expressed, and with the first Italian Organic Agriculture Standards, published in 1986, domestic market development took off. AIAB, founded in 1988, established a national system for supervision of regional certification organizations. EU Regulation 2092/91 was implemented in 1993. During the strong expansion of organic in the mid 1990s, instead of pushing its own standard and certification program, the Italian organic sector gave priority to guiding the public authorities in the implementation of the EU Regulation. Sales in larger outlets like retailer chains are increasing, and the value of the domestic market in 2005 was 1.9 billion €, corresponding to 2% of total food sales. The total value of certified organic products is 2.4 billion €, and export markets are developing in the USA, Japan and Asia. During the early period, organic development was managed by producers in alliances with consumers and the environmental movement and without government support. In 2000 a national target was set --10 % of all agricultural land converted to organic by 2005 -- and a promotional campaign was launched for organic, financed by a new 2% tax on synthetic pesticides. Over 1 million ha is managed organically, which amounts to 7% of the agricultural land and 2% of the farms. Cereals, olives, fruits (grapes, citrus) and vegetables are the main organic products.
Italy has approximately 56 million inhabitants. Agriculture has been, and still is, a major asset for the country’s economy.
In the global market Italian products are widely known and appreciated. However, there are major challenges. The small size of most Italian farms and their still prevalent traditional / extensive production systems create a structural weakness in the farms, with a large part of them dependent on public support for their survival. The increasing average age of farmers (> 60 today) and the lack of a younger generation willing to continue is another general threat. Almost 70% of the farms remain without a successor. In addition, the rigid farm property system makes it difficult for new farmers to acquire land.
Over 1 million ha is managed organically (>700,000 ha organic and >300,000 ha in conversion), representing about 7% of Italy’s agricultural land and 2% of all its farms. The main organic crops are forage and pasture, which with other extensive arable land account for about 60% of land use, followed by cereals at 21%. Olives account for 10%, grapes 3%, fruits 3%, citrus 2%, and fresh vegetables 2%. In 2005, organic animal husbandry included 222,000 cows, 31,000 pigs, 738,000 sheep, 86,000 goats, 977,000 chickens, 7,000 horses, 1,000 rabbits, and 72,000 bee hives.
By the end of 2005 Italy had 44,733 organic farmers, 4,537 organic processors, and 185 importers, with a total of 49,859 organic enterprises. In 2004 the number was 40,965.
Organic farms are not evenly distributed through Italy. 70% of organic farms are in the south, 12% in central Italy, and 18% in the north, while 48% of the trading companies and processors and 90% of importers are located in the northern regions.
Development of organic farms and farming area 1990-2000 (Source: AIAB)
The early development of organic farming
Italy Regulatory Framework
Italy Organisation Structure
|IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture | email@example.com|