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Italy - Industry tomatoes at risk due to drought

Various areas in Italy are suffering because of the drought and Parma and Piacenza declared the state of natural disaster. It hasn’t rained for months and forecasts say it won’t rain in the next few days as well.

Industry tomatoes are suffering the most, which is rather problematic as a lot of people are employed in this sector. In 2015, national production was 5.4 million tons with a turnover of around €3.1 billion, meaning Italy is the second leading producer after the US and before China.

€8.6 million will be made available to Parma ad Piacenza to implement emergency measures to help agriculture and supply water.

After difficult transplants in spring and the stress due to frost in April, some growers in Emilia Romagna chose not to transplant late varieties (to be harvested in late September/October) as there is not enough water to irrigate. Groundwater levels are low and rivers and streams are almost dry. Even the Po river is well below the seasonal average.

Davide Previati, technical manager for Op Asipo di Parma, reported that tomato crops are at risk. “The areas at the foot of the hills using water from drainage canals and reservoirs are suffering a lot. Things are slightly better in the areas near the PO river, but groundwater is diminishing rapidly. Growers face higher costs as the high temperatures mean more water is needed.”

“All this causes problems for both growers and the industry, as processing requires a lot of water. We have met regional councillor for agriculture Simona Caselli on 23rd June to find a solution,” explains Tiberio Rabboni (in the photo), President of Organizzazione interprofessionale Pomodoro da industria del nord.”

In Veneto, Confagricoltura describes a worrying situation. In the Venice province, for example, saltwater is intruding into the ground, which causes a lot of problems when irrigation water is taken from the wells. Saltwater was found 12 km inland. So far, the damage affects 25% of summer crops. Radicchio di Chioggia Igp transplants are also at risk.Luckily, southern Italy has experienced no problems due to the lack of water so far. “Of course water is not abundant, but the situation is not as dire as in the north,” explains Gennaro Velardo, President of Italia Ortofrutta.”

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