Concetta Nicodemo is a 78-year-old lady who is still growing and harvesting strawberries after dedicating her whole life to agriculture. Concetta was the first laborer and founder of one of the best-known businesses in Metapontino, Nicofruit, which currently dedicates 50 hectares to strawberry cultivation.
Concetta performing transplant operations
Although her passion and dedication to work have not diminished over the years, it has become difficult for Concetta to spend as many hours in the fields at a time, and she can no longer be part of an active team that requires speed and a lot of physical movements. Strawberry cultivation is, in fact, tiring work, as operations require a bent back for many hours a day.
Workers facilitated by the new soilless system
With the aim of speeding up and facilitating work in the fields, improving the working conditions of employees, and limit the lack of labor, Nicofruit has decided to set up its first soilless crop with up to 3 rows. It is an innovative system designed by Combimetal Carrera and which was installed a few days ago.
We met Mrs. Concetta while she was planting Inspire strawberry plants. "I have been doing this job for 50 years. I have witnessed the evolution of strawberry cultivation in Basilicata from all points of view: a varietal of chemical products used, the packaging, the markets, and of environmental sustainability, but little has changed in so much time when it comes to the working conditions. These modern systems facilitate crop operations. Had they existed in my time, they would have spared me a lot of effort and pain."
The company aims to convert a good part of the strawberry crops to the soilless method over the next few years. "We are investing to help our workers during the harvesting and transplant phases, as we know how much effort, care and attention they require. We want employees not to be frightened when we ask them to work on the strawberry crops anymore. This system enables me to work at my age too, as plants are not too low and fruits are more visible."