Giorgio Mercuri is the Fedagri-Confcooperative national president and an entrepreneur. He described the critical conditions that Southern Italy has been experiencing, “For more than one month, we have been facing very dramatic situations throughout Southern Italy”.
The past months’ extreme climatic conditions – heavy, persistent rains, temperatures above the average and high humidity level – discouraged producers who were already facing challenges because of the market trend. “The first ten days of October, there were heavy rains and humid heat immediately after. The night fog inevitably damaged the crops. The broccoli, fennels, cabbages and lettuce are indeed spoiled directly on the field. Therefore, they are not suitable for marketing”.
“The production dropped by 70% compared to last year. Also, distributors cannot properly acknowledge the great effort of the operators. A careful selection both in the fields and in the warehouses is necessary in order to ship a quality produce – even though it will not have a good shelf-life”.
As Mercuri pointed out, the situation does not give any signs of improvement. “The last hours’ heavy rains further delayed the harvesting of the little good produce left. We expect that there will not be enough produce to satisfy the national demand for the next 20 days. In the meantime, we are trying to supply all the markets”.
“Our area is quite windy. This allows the air to remain healthy and clean thus preventing the fall-winter crops from being affected by fungus infections. Unfortunately, you just need to take a look at the most recent wind data to understand that there was no wind at all for the last 6 months!”.
“It is not just a matter of the economic repercussions or of losing jobs. The problem is that producers are afraid that they will not be economically supported by the government. This kind of attitude led some producers to give up, especially in recent times”.
“If the situation will not improve, prices will increase by Christmas so to manage the orders. I wish that all the agricultural sector will benefit from that increase. If this climate will persist in the future, then the Italian agri-food sector will enormously change”.