Page 1

Authors LAORE SARDEGNA Regional Agency of Agriculture Development Department of vegetable productions S.U.T. Campidano: Marco Deligia, Claudio Scano S.U.T. Marmilla: Paolo Lecca S.U.T. Linas: Angelo Zanda, Roberto Peddis Studies and Projects Sector: Massimo Rocchitta, Anna Lallai, Stefano Rocca, Giuseppe Floris, Priamo Carboni. Translation: Roberto Codias

Design ICALPE - International Centre for ALPine Environments Casa Pastureccia 20250 RIVENTOSA [FRANCE]

Introduction The following text provides a general picture of agriculture in the Medio Campidano province of Sardinia, where a success story of non-technological innovation is being developed: the “food basket of the green province�. This booklet shows the development prospects and problems of the local rural sector, and describes this non-technological innovative experience, as territorial organization system involving a public-private partnership.

Chapter 1 Context of the Island



Sardinia is an Italian island situated in the middle of the Mediterranean sea, it has a surface of 24.089 sq. km, with a population of 1.630.000 inhabitants and an average density of 62 inhabitants /sq. km . The area is characterized by ancient reliefs whose altitude does not go over 1834 mt (Gennargentu), and are spread for most of the surface (hilly uplands). The plains are located in the middle-south (Campidano, Piana del Sulcis) and in the north-west (Nurra), as well as several inland valleys. The landscape is harsh because of the arid summer, but it is sweet, thanks to the green conical hills which cover the south of the region, during the late winter and spring because of the mild climate with the average annual temperature of 17,6 º C and the average annual humidity of 70,6%. The coasts are high and jagged and sometimes rocky at the western side beaten by the prevailing wind (Mistral), while the east coast is more regular, low and sandy, only in some places high and rocky. The inland local landscape is characterized by Mediterranean vegetation. In Sardinia, 90% of the surface is considered as “rural area” while the urban centres are only the two cities of Cagliari and Sassari. The forest area covers 53% of the regional surface, the utilised agricultural area (UAA) the 43%, the infrastructures and built-up areas 3% and the wetlands 1%. For transport, main connections are from the harbors of Cagliari, Olbia and Porto Torres and from the international airports of Cagliari, Olbia and Alghero.

Sardinia at a glance: Area: 24 089 km² Average altitude: 917 m Population: 1 630 000 (2001 Census) Density: 62 hab/km² Population: (2001 Census, as 2011 Census data are not availbale yet)

in urban areas: 163 000 individuals in rural areas: 1 467 000 individuals

GDP Structure by sector Tertiary sector: 74,2% Secondary sector: 21,5% Primary sector: 4,3%

The Medio Campidano Situated in the Center-South-West of the island, the territory of the MEDIO CAMPIDANO is one of the 8 provinces of the Region of Sardinia. Its two capitals are Villacidro and Sanluri, ca. 50 km away from Cagliari, from which they depend for the main infrastructures (air and sea connections, universities, health etc.). The area is connected with Medio other regional areas through the main Campidano road axis of the island and through the Sardinian dorsal railway. The marine area extends over 47 km of coastline (part sandy and part rocky and jagged) on the west side of the municipality of Arbus. The local economy is based on the following activities: the service sector 74% (services and tourism), industry 21% (building, agro-food, etc.), agriculture and livestock 5%. In the Medio Campidano, three homogeneous areas can be identified: Linas, Campidano and Marmilla. There are Sites of Community Importance (SCI) that have been integrated into the Natura-2000 EU Network, the most important of which are “Dune di Piscinas”. In general terms, main advantages of the area are its vocation to agriculture, quality of food-stuff and a wealth of natural resources. The proper use of the territory, connected with the agricultural sector, would also support the development of tourism and its external promotion. The main weakness of the area are the lack of infrastructure (transport, education, credit, etc.) and weak primary sector and industry. The main threat, is the high rate of youth unemployment, which leads the inhabitants, mainly the young people, to emigrate to the regions of Northern Italy, thus depopulating the inland areas. Improvement of infrastructure and a political commitment towards strengthening a rural development based on land resources are the pillars to restart the whole local economy, and improve its competitiveness.

Agriculture and rural area in Medio Campidano In MEDIO CAMPIDANO, 4.91% of the economically active population (18-65 years) is involved in agriculture: 85.17% is male and 9.50% of them are young farmers, 28.50% middle-aged and the rest more than 50 years old. The cultivated area covers 82.900 hectares and the main crops are cereals (about 20.000 hectares 14200 hectares durum wheat, 26% of the regional total), pastures and forage crops (35.000 hectares), vegetables (about 3000 hectares - 22% of the regional total), olive (4500 hectares -11% of the regional total) and orchards (1400 hectares). Livestock is important, including 232.000 sheep (9% of the regional total) and 21.500 goats, more than 6000 cattle and 47.000 pigs. According to the RDP \ NDP classification, 48% of the province is considered as “ intermediate rural area “ and 52% as “rural area with comprehensive development problems”. According to the SWOT analysis, the


basic advantage of the local agricultural sector is the existence of many local products, some of them representing an important biodiversity that has been subject to specific “development plans”. Examples of such products include local honey, melon grown without any irrigation in Marmilla, table olives of the Linas area, local saffron and the “Sardinian” pig. Main weak points include increased production costs and difficult access to the national markets, because of transport (a common problem for rural islands economies) and limited quantities, altogether resulting in low income for the producers. Therefore, the future challenge for the rural sector of the Medio Campidano is to take full advantage from the local typical products marketed in the regional area, within a “short distance supply” system. Only in this way, some income can be guaranteed to the families and the young people and motivate them to remain in the primary sector and keep the rural areas alive. Obstacles to the development of the local agricultural sector include the lack of innovative approach, insufficient collective forms of association, gaps in the supply network of local products, and increased production and promotion costs.


Challenges facing the evolution of agriculture The conclusion is that the economic development of the Medio Campidano is linked to the implementation of the rural development, and the promotion of local products that allow them to drive the whole territory. We could divide the obstacles towards further development of these products between the areas of technological and non-technological innovations. The first area consists in factors such as financial sources, involvement of the research centres, the second in the organization of public-private partnerships with educational and methodological factors. This area is the most demanding, because of low-cost interventions including compound actions, and adopting a “bottom-up ‘ multidisciplinary and integrated approach. Partnerships must be established to undertake collective action for the organization of the territories, and promote activities to support development, relying on technical and scientific supports.

Importance of agriculture in terms of land use, landscape, biodiversity The context in which the rural economy of the Medio Campidano moves has been regulated for several years by the Regional Landscape Plan (PPR/RLP), which is closely linked to the Regional Rural Development Plan (RDP), including in particular the compliance with the environmental regulations, imposed by the requirements of the EC Regulation N. 814/2000 (Information on the Common Agricultural Policy, the new frontier between the CAP and the rural development). Farmers must fulfil these requirements for direct access to the community aids, which has an important influence on the agriculture, biodiversity and protection of the local environment. In the province of Medio Campidano, through a serious and effective “territorial diffusion” and animation works carried out by the Regional Agency for Rural Development (LAORE), farmers adopt environmentally-friendly practices such as minimum tillage that tend to alter as little as possible the fertility of the soil, minimum use of synthetic fertilizers, like in the “integrated production” or use


of only some types of fertilizers in “Organic Farming”, and protection of important biodiversity. In this area the LAORE Agency has carried out some pilot projects on cultivars of long artichokes such as the ‘”Spinoso Sardo DPO” that once were highly valued by the consumer, as well as on some niche products like the Sardinian honey, the Sardinian breed pig, the rainfed Melon among the leading products of the agricultural and food sector.

Importance of agriculture in the regional economy The recent economic crisis has highlighted the need of a “recovery” of the national agricultural sector, and consequently the regional one. During the last decade this sector suffered a significant decline due to structural factors and lack of oriented policy (CAP ). According to the Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), the added value of the industry in Sardinia has fallen by 0.8% over the period examined and the reinvestment also decreased by 2.5%. In addition, a further development of the agriculture and food industry would be an important factor


for the regional economic regeneration, with the target of a careful planning and the “revitalization” of the rural areas. With regard to the local context of the Medio Campidano, these data show the importance of the rural development as support to the primary sector in terms of quality of safe products that meet the expectations of the consumers, but above all oriented towards a “logic of short chain” to ensure a higher income for the producers. The policies adopted at regional level have based their greater effectiveness on tourism, a development model, that recently showed a significant decrease in total revenues, made worse by the global financial instability, and by high cost of transport , which does not leave room to an immediate reassuring recovery. Thus, development policies also seem to go back towards an integration between agriculture and other productive sectors. The creation of a framework for “non-technological” innovation is seen as a necessary priority condition for the development of the rural areas of the island. And in this respect, an involvement process of local economic private actors (stakeholders) and public institutions started in the Medio Campidano. This process concerned the “organization of territories”, which is one of the strategic areas identified by AGRISLES for innovation in the islands. The funding instrument used for this process is principally the Rural Development Programme (RDP) for 2007-2013, through the LEADER approach, Axis IV, and also Axis III regarding the improvement of the quality of life in the rural areas (multi-functional role of the agricultural sector). However in the Medio Campidano area that is not fully eligible under the LEADER, even if two LAG (Local Action Groups) are operating, non-technological innovation processes were alternatively launched. They involved a public-private partnership aimed at the organization of territories, for their promotion and local development, i.e.. “the food basket of the green province” ). The total public budget of the 2007-2013 RDP of the Region of Sardinia amounts to euros (44% financing of EARDF), with the Regional Department of Agriculture responsible for its implementation.

Table 1: General structure of RDP of the Region of Sardinia (costs in euros) AXES

Total public financing

EARDF participation

Private expenditure


AXIS I Modernization





AXIS II Agri-environment





AXIS III Quality life in the rural areas










Technical Assistance











Chapter 2 The Food Basket of the Green Province 12

Summary As partner of the AGRISLES Transnational European Territorial Cooperation project, within the MED Programme, the LAORE SARDEGNA agency, has developed a pilot project to support the cooperation between Public Authorities and economic actors of the rural areas, in the context of the organization of territories innovation area, which is aimed at promoting the area and its local products. Among the activities of the LAORE agency in the implementation of its institutional role aimed at promoting the development and the technical assistance to the regional agricultural sector, the initiative promoted by the Province of the Medio Campidano, to develop an agricultural and food “Basket” has been regarded consistent with the AGRISLES methodology for development and implementation of non-technological innovation. This initiative aims to highlight elements of agricultural and food specificity, and also the biodiversity of the territory having the highest agricultural vocation of the island. The path began with the food education project aimed at the primary schools “Talk like you eat”, promoted through the days of AgriCultura and the food and wine Guide. And it culminated with the “Building the agricultural and food basket” initiative, that involved the Province, the Local Tourist System (STL), the Municipalities and the Regional Agencies for Development (LAORE) and Research and Innovation (AGRIS) for the public side, and private operators of the agricultural and food, tourist and handicraft sectors in a single local partnership. The “Basket” is a network of knowledge, rural experiences and flavors to protect and improve. It starts a new method of participatory, bottom-up methodological innovation aimed at the promotion and improvement of local specialties. This food basket experience involves a privileged circuit targeted to guarantee and transmit the origin of the products, that allows to network economic operators, in order to produce a “showcase” as a possible commercial outlet for local products. In this sense, the basket becomes a useful communication tool to represent and promote outside the whole province, with the aim of attracting investment and productive synergies. With regard to the agricultural and food supply chains, the Province of Medio Campidano, with the support of the LAORE and AGRIS Regional Agencies, has activated specific improvement plans for the dry-grown melon, table olives, honey and an important breed in terms of biodiversity such as the “Sardinian breed pig.” In parallel, the “Satu po imparai” educational initiative was launched. Addressed to the schools, with the educational aims to rediscover the countryside and the ancient flavors, it started strengthening the pilot project through the establishment of the Provincial Association of the “Teaching Farms.” This initiative also involves a considerable number of on-farm holiday operators, directly involved in the implementation of their proper guidelines in consequence of a new regional law, in another key initiative to support the sector in terms of competitiveness and growth of the territory through the establishment of the List of suppliers for on-farm holiday.


Starting point In the Medio Campidano the active farms are currently 7580, using an area of 100.000 hectares equal to 2/3 of the surface of the province. This data reveal a clear and consolidated agricultural vocation of the territory, such as to give it the denomination of “Green Province”. However, in the last decades the profitability of the sector has fallen, hitting heavily these areas and threatening the survival of businesses. In order to reverse this phenomenon and allow a recovery of the agriculture and rural sector, given the traditional simultaneous presence in the territory of important livestock and agricultural products, burdened by the context of general crisis triggered by the globalization process, a path of recovery of the agriculture and rural development has been started. The Province of Medio Campidano since its establishment in 2005, has shown great sensitiveness to the problems of the rural areas. With the technical support of the regional and agricultural agencies AGRIS and LAORE, it has undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at the recovery of the area, such as the “The agricultural and food green basket”, which aims, also in an innovative way, to make the best of the typical elements of agriculture and food, and also of the biodiversity of the territory.


Historical development of the experience The area of the Medio Campidano is characterized by a varied and articulated agricultural sector with the contemporaneous presence of various productions, as proved by the significant settlement of some agricultural and food industries. Despite the effects of the severe economic crisis, a number of companies has found interest in appropriate interventions of development. The provincial Administration has therefore promoted the establishment of a publicprivate partnership, starting a methodological, innovative and participatory course. Key elements, that have contributed to the success of the initiative are: active and receptive companies, logistically equipped, open to productive improvement and reorganization; good range of high quality and typical products; tourism-hotel activity, refreshment, with good attendance flows interested in oenology, gastronomy, traditions and local culture; strong adhesion to the «Green Basket of the Medio Campidano» project. In the beginning 135 farms have now imposed themselves in 77, to which must be added all the other that join the accessory initiative « Living the Country - Vivere la campagna» and therefore contribute and support the Plans of improvement of the typical products, the productive chains and the biodiversity, for a total of ca.1300

companies (1/6 of the provincial total) that operate in an area of 8000 hectares (10% of the UAA ). To these must be added the 6 craft enterprises (initially 18) and 35 tourist and farm holidays enterprises; wide range of typical agro-food products, with an increase of the typologies and improvement of the packaging; improvement of the services through the newly formed «Association of the Educational Farms» in the supplying of refreshments, catering with the use of the productions of the «Basket» even at major events; constant development and participative implementation to the events in the territory as well as the presence and visibility at important national and international events like the «Salone del Gusto» in Turin and the «Nuremberg Fair»; constant and participative exchange of experiences and twinning with other similar regional and national situations, thanks to contribution of the initiative LEADER through the LAG increasing offer of the «Basket» products disguised as promotional and institutional gift to national or foreign delegations ; punctual training offered, with the support of the Regional Agricultural Agencies, to the companies participating in the Memorandum of Understanding, for training on rural development, education, quality... Among the current threats plays a priority role the average age of the enterprise’s owners generally high and not always open toward the innovative processes, usually averse to the outward comparison (partnerships) and scarcely inclined to the aggregative and cooperative methodologies. The lack of an adequate productive critical mass, is an aggravating element together with the «territorial continuity» factor common to all the insular areas. Among the critical issues the competition that these productions, although typical, suffer on the markets from structured marketing forms ( cooperatives, etc.) has an important position.

Approach or methodology used The process of participative involvement has a multidisciplinary and integrated feature, of a wide approach beginning from the bottom as it is very close to the needs of the territory. This methodological process aimed at developing the “non-technological” innovation involves a series of actions taken in the establishment of the public-private partnership, that are part of the strategic area for innovation relating to the “organization of territories”. The evolution of this process happened through the following steps: 1. Analysis of the agricultural and food context carried out by the Province, through a careful evaluation of the strength and weak points of each sector, especially in relation to a point of view of «short chain» and to a participative bottom-up methodological approach; 2. Local animation through a series of informative meetings on the chains and local specialities, with an extensive involvement of the potential stakeholders (private traders) and the relevant local authorities, all interested in increasing the value of the territory through its excellent productions; 3. Creation of a container (basket) to spread and promote these local products, corresponding to the 18 quality




6. 7. 8.


charts adopted to identify them, even during a series of targeted and promotional popular events toward the consumers, with the relevant tasting; Extensive involvement of a large number of small and medium enterprises especially farms, oriented toward innovation and improvement of the quality of products, also supported by roundtables attended by all the actors of the most developed sectors; Drawing up a Memorandum of Understanding between the public partners (Province, STL, municipalities) and private enterprises (agricultural producers, food processing, handicrafts, trade, tourism, etc.) in order to formalize the trail and the initiative; Evaluation of the potential market, geographical ambit and target of consumers to which turn the attention; Networking and dissemination on the territory of the initiative aimed at catching the interest of the entrepreneurs through a formal procedure of wider adhesion; Creation of a logo that identify the packages and decalcomanias, aimed at improving the packaging and the promotional methodology.

The problems encountered are related to: Lack of innovative spirit of a large part of the entrepreneurial fabric; Strong myopia of the productive sector to the actions of territorial marketing; Insufficient liquidity of capitals and debt situation consolidated by the long-term situation of general crisis in the sector; Poor willingness to cooperation and form associations; Need for adequate technical support; Parallelism and overlapping with other chains rooted in the territory that afterward has led to the loss of interest and to the abandonment. Many difficulties have been mitigated with the support of the regional agricultural agencies that continue to play their institutional role of strategic support to the interventions in agriculture, to the rural territory and to its development initiatives such as the ÂŤGreen Food BasketÂť

Results obtained The evolution of the described process of cooperation between local public authorities and private economic subjects, so far has been satisfactory despite some moments of standstill following the first phase of start of the path and necessary to develop and test the methodology . This tends for favour targeting the adhesions to the process of the more motivated subjects, in other words “leading” ones. However we can say that the territorial animation has triggered an innovative “nontechnological” process that had a good impact on the system of “organization of the rural territory”, since the “basket” has fulfilled its starting broad objectives. Through the days of “AgriCultura” circuit, the initiative is in constant contact with the territory, focusing the attention from time to time on one or more products or chains, or biodiversity included in the 18 identification chart of the typicality that form the “Green Agricultural and Food Basket”, or in the more structured “ development plans”. The technical support of the Regional LAORE and AGRIS Agencies, allowed to draw up some strategic tools of technical and scientific feature with regard to the implementation of the already established chains. Such tools include those developed for the table olives and saffron ones (the latter obtaining at the same time the regional PDO though it is mainly rooted in 3 communes in the Medio Campidano) or for important species with regard to biodiversity like the rainfed melon, and the “Sardinian breed pig”, still developing. The “basket” pilot project is making use of a constant assistance on the field because the institutional activity made by the regional agricultural agencies, in support of the agricultural enterprises, with the territory in general, contribute to pursue the priority objectives aimed at a wider sustainable growth of the rural areas. The achievement of the project initiated by the local partnership is highlighted by the fact that other areas are trying to organize themselves in a similar way to address the hard challenges of the future. They are using the values of the territory as a structural base of its own development plans. This is a significant emerging data that affects at least 3 provinces in Sardinia and some situations at national level. Through the Local Tourist System (STL), the “ Green Agricultural and Food Basket “ of the Medio Campidano crossed the insular regional context, taking active part in important national and international events, such as the “Salone del Gusto” in Turin, the BIT “Borsa del Turismo” in Milan or the Nuremberg Fair. It has represented the Sardinian territory to promote local hospitality with its excellent cuisine linked to the tradition, history and culture. Concerning this, some significant indicators of quantity come out, related to the growing demands of participation in events of the same importance and quality, as the level of specialization of the local identity aspects reveal a steady growth. In the area of the Medio Campidano the businesses participating in the project of the “Basket”, and the parallel initiatives, “Living the country Vivere la campagna “ are about 1300, with an area of 7500


cultivated hectares, contributing to keep among the lowest figures at regional level the percentage of inactive or closed businesses. This data is significant in the ecological-environmental context as well, as 80% of these areas is cultivated with vegetables in rotation with cereals, contributing in this way to prevent the erosion and the soil conservation. In terms of “short supply chains”, those of the vegetables correlated to the zootechnical sector, because of the re-use for feeding livestock, significantly concerns approximately 70% of local companies involved in the project. Among the others we find important indicators, in term of employees, such as the involvement of rainfed melon producers. The number of these producers, with the support of the technical assistance and some adjustments in the cultivation experience, increased from 135 to 240, and the related surfaces from 130 beyond to 200 hectares, highlighting an improved profitability of the chain and reduced depopulation of the rural areas. The results achieved on the methodological level by the experience addressed to the schools are also important. The experience born with the “Saperi di campagna” programme, from which started the “Satu po imparai” project of environmental


education developed in collaboration between the LAORE Agency and the Department of Public Education of the Province. Correlated with the “basket”, this initiative, was aimed at recovering, preserving and increasing the value of the heritage of knowledge and traditional agricultural and food productions that characterizes a territory with a strong rural inclination, and creating and developing a trail in the “teaching farms”, integrating and improving the quality of the services offered, with a view to strengthen the multifunctional role of the farms. The project involved the awareness and active participation of 13 schools and the creation of 24 informative and educational courses around the typical local agricultural and food products included in the 18 product charts that form “the basket”. The didactic trails in the farms have involved about 1200 pupils in the kindergarten, elementary and secondary schools highlighting an important impact on the territory for the economic growth. Through a popular virtuous methodological and informative course the association “educational farms of the Medio Campidano” was formed, involving 18 farms that are implementing the business diversification and the public bodies, the schools with various associations interested in the rediscovery, environmental preservation, food education and in the multifunctional development of rural territory and its traditions.

The creation of the register of suppliers of the on-farm holiday centres, is a process at regional level started in accomplishment of the R.L. n. 1/2010, to which have joined 75 businesses of the Medio Campidano, 22 of these are part of the “agricultural and food Green Basket” , undertaking the path of traceability of foods and increasing the level of the on-farm holidays and canteens. These represent 17 producers of the meat chain and of its by-products, 10 producers of the bakery products chain, 26 producers of vegetables for fresh consumption (cereals, olives, vegetables, asparagus), 13 producers of products of animal origin (eggs, honey, milk, cheese and dairy products) and 7 producers of saffron. This register is essential for the preservation of local products that the Region Sardinia has put into practice, as a policy to combat the agricultural and food counterfeits and speculation coming from external markets by strengthening the food healthiness in defence of the consumers.


Bibliography • Rural Development Programme of Sardinia Region 2007-2013 - Analysis of context • The socio-economic context of the geographical area - Rural economy and quality of life - Leader programme (2007); • Rural - Development Programme of Sardinia Region 2007-2013


The partners of the MED AGRISLES project, representing public authorities in charge of agriculture and rural development in the Balearic islands (Spain), Corsica (France, project lead partner), Sardinia and Sicily (Italy), Gozo (Malta), the Northern Sporades (Thessaly) and North-Aegean archipelagos (Greece), the Cyprus island (Cyprus) and the Azores (Portugal), altogether are exchanging experiences and developing a common method for non-technological innovation in agriculture and rural development. They publish a series of booklets to disseminate identified best practices on this issue. This story of the Green Food basket of the Medio Campidano in Sardinia is an example of integrated promotion of Medio Campidano province products. The objective is to promote at the same time the territory and its productions, through a sampling of typically local and traditional food processing products which guarantee authenticity and quality to the consumers with the label of territorial quality “the Basket of the green Province”. This basket is the “showroom” of the culture, the traditions, the gastronomy and the local craft industry. It will be the ambassador of the Province...

Governo dos Açores

The Food Basket of the Green Province  

This story of the Green Food basket of the Medio Campidano in Sardinia is an example of integrated promotion of Medio Campidano province pro...