Saffron growing in Italy: a sustainable secondary activity for farms in hilly and sub-mountain areas.


Giupponi L., Leoni V., Sala S., Giorgi A., Bertoni D.

International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability

Italy has faced a renewed interest in the production of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in recent times. However, little is known about the status of this agri-food chain. This exploratory study investigates saffron production (from agronomic to social and marketing aspects) in Italy through 162 interviews with farmers. A large part of them (38%) are young, often at a higher level of literacy (bachelor or master) and new entrants in the agricultural sector (data significantly higher than the average for Italian farms). In more than half the cases, saffron production is considered a complementary activity, with an average production of 332 g per farm per year. Saffron farms are spread throughout Italy and are generally located in hilly/sub-mountain areas (between 143 and 703 m a.s.l.). Only 1% of farmers use agrochemicals, and more than 90% do not need irrigation, while just 40% of farms are mechanized, saffron can then be considered a low-input and sustainable choice for farms in marginal areas. Farmers focus on a high-quality product, certified by quality and sustainability labels. However, supply chain coordination, and knowledge and innovation support should be further developed to promote this sustainable production.

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