This article is part of our special report Young people and women in EU farming.
EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funds have helped a family in southern Italy revive and even innovate their business. EURACTIV’s partner Sicilia Agricoltura reports.
Anna Savasta and sister-in-law Marinella Romano are two smallholders in Roccapalumba, a small town near Palermo. It is affectionately known by locals as the town of stars and prickly pears.
They received funding to implement an EU project that helped them renovate existing buildings in a large area to increase prickly pear cultivation.
“Thanks to the EU aid, we were able to save our family business,” they said, adding that the financial support included the purchase of technical equipment like a calibration machine, a brush roller for fruit and a wrapping machine.
They also built a cold storage unit that lets them preserve more fruit, in order to extend the marketing period, but also a petting zoo and multimedia facilities.
New CAP and women
They said knowledge, innovation and technology are the cornerstones to guarantee the success of the post-2020 CAP.
According to the Italian farmers, the goal of the next CAP should be to upgrade a rather obsolete agricultural sector that needs radical change, ranging from technology to generational renewal.
Only 5.6% of all European farms are managed by farmers under 35, while more than 31% are over 65, for a total of 3.2 million farmers now in retirement age.
To ensure that these goals are achieved, agriculture needs adequate support, but the new CAP will be smaller – it is set to get 38% of the EU budget, a decrease on previous years.
Smart and resilient agriculture needs to start again with the participation of women.
Women have always been crucial in the food industry as they have traditionally been part of the last stage, transforming a primary product into a commodity after the traditional production processes.
Today, one out of three farms in Italy is run by a woman and more than 400,000 women are employed in the sector. Women’s efforts in the sector are regenerating companies with new activities linked to the quality of food, transforming ancient know-how into economics.
New female entrepreneurship is emerging also in agritourism sector, thanks to women’s innovative skills. Women manage, on average, almost 40% of the Italian agritourism companies.
Old farmsteads or farms have been made over into beautiful farmhouses, equipped with all modern comforts, and tourist demand for this is constantly increasing, despite the economic crisis.
[Edited by Gerardo Fortuna, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Zoran Radosavljevic and Sam Morgan]