I (Chris Thoreau) am lucky enough to be in Italy at the moment, with a group of folks from Vancity Credit Union, to learn about the role of cooperatives in the Italian economy. We are primarily in the Emilia-Romagna region where Co-ops make up over 1/4 of the region’s economy – including many agricultural co-ops.
While our focus is on co-ops, the Emilia-Romagna region is a well-known seed production area. The climate here is very favorable for seed production and the Italians have along tradition and strong skill set around seed production. There are close to 300 seed companies in Italy, 80 of which are focused on vegetable seed. In 2014 Italy had 26,000 ha of herb and vegetable seed production. Emilia-Romagna is one of the main vegetable seed production areas.
We visited our first farm yesterday but I have not yet seen any seed production here (except, perhaps, I may have seen some from the bus trip to Padova yesterday). Chicory is an important seed crop here so I will be looking for some local seed to take home with me!
I’ll include some pictures for my next post!