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Bad season for Sicilian artichokes

"This season has been disastrous for Sicilian artichokes. The summer drought compromised things from the beginning, then the extreme cold in early December damaged production further. In addition, produce from North Africa became available early and coincided with our delay," explains producer Enzo Rametta.

Enzo Rametta

Prices were stable until Christmas, then dropped also due to the availability of produce from Puglia.

"We hadn't expected for this much produce to be available. Someone needs to monitor the incoming of goods from abroad. Other Mediterranean countries don't have to comply with our same restrictions. We can't go on like this, as we have to deal with higher labour costs as well as heavy taxation. What is more, energy and fuel are more expensive, so it's clear how we just cannot compete."

"As we can't have an effect on the free market yet can't protect our products, all we can do is push final consumers to purchase local, regional and domestic products. Italian products must come first. Often consumers ignore that the lower cost of products from developing countries corresponds to cheaper uncontrolled labour. What is more, phytosanitary regulations have little to do with the high Italian standards."

"It costs around €5000 to plant one hectare of artichokes. Each hectare has around 10 thousand plants producing 12 artichokes each. Over the past few weeks, we have had to sell our produce to wholesalers at €0.08, for a gross total of €9600. Half of this sum is spent on compulsory phytosanitary treatments and harvester wages. If this was not enough, industry prices have also dropped to €0.05 this year."

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