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The agricultural sector in Italy operates in the context of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The attention towards the environmental impact and food quality in European strategies was growing. Therefore, in this perspective, it's necessary to have indicators suitable not only for the economic characterisation of the sector, but also for the assessment of the environmental impact and the qualification of new activities, capable of combining development with sustainability and protection of the rural environment.
In 2016, agricultural holdings in Italy were 1 million and 146 thousand. Compared to 2013, they recorded an increase in the average size (11 hectares) as an effect of the unification between farm businesses. The incidence of family labour decreased and the incidence of non-family labour increased. Working days remained substantially stable. The areas cultivated organically were growing: they represented 12.3% of the utilized agricultural area (UAA), compared to 7.7% in 2013.
In 2015, Italian agricultural holdings produced around 158 euros of added value per employee for every 100 euros of unit labour cost detected. The added value was very diversified between large companies (approximately € 400) and small companies (almost € 107). The vertical integration degree in agriculture took on a value of 60.3% and on average each company employed less than full-time work unit (0.6).
The farm holiday sector confirmed the growing trend of recent years: between 2007 and 2018, the number of agritourism farms businesses went from 17,720 to 23,615, marking an increase of more than 33%. The positive trend also affected the current value of farm holiday production which, between 2007 and 2018, rose from 1.08 to 1.39 billion euros (+ 29%).
The dynamism of the sector emerged from the increase in the number of municipalities hosting holiday farms (+ 2.9%), from the increase in presences (+ 5.6%) and arrivals (+ 5.9%). The type of farm holiday services offered is increasingly diversified. Especially the tasting activity is increasing which, in 2018, grew by 7.2% compared to the previous year.
Between 2017 and 2018, the share of female-run agritourism farms remained unchanged, representing 36% of the national total, going from 8,483 to 8,563 businesses (+ 0.9%).
The overall distribution of fertilising products registered a decline, from 4,713,425 tonnes in 2017 to 4,572,288 in 2018 (-3.0%).
In particular, with regard to straight fertilizers, the distribution amounted to 1,290,072 tonnes and is almost remained unchanged compared to 2017 (+ 0.9%). The quantity of straight fertilizers distributed per hectare of UAA was 0.10 tonnes (going from the same amount as 2017).
In 2018, the overall distribution of plant protection products dropped from 116.8 million kilograms in 2017 to 114.4 (-2.1%). The downward trend continued both in the quantity of active component ingredients contained in the distributed plant protection products, which from about 57 million kilogrammes in 2017 dropped to 54 (-4.5%), and in the quantity of active substances distributed per hectare, which went from 4.50 kilograms per hectare of UAA in 2017 to 4.30.
In 2016, the average size of Italian agricultural holdings, in terms of area, was significantly different across the territory. However, the 2016 figure was influenced by the change in the field of observation of the survey on the structure and production of agricultural holdings, from which very small farms were excluded. The average size was larger in the North-West (19.7 hectares) and smaller in the South and Islands (8.8 hectares). Strong differences were also found among the Regional subdivisions: in the North-West, Liguria (4.3 hectares) had a smaller size than the national average (11.0 hectares); on the contrary, Sardegna stood out in the South and Islands, with an average size of 24.5 hectares.
In 2015, the best performances in terms of wage adjusted labour productivity were found in the North-West (191.5 euros per 100 euros of unit labour cost). The difference between the largest enterprises (626.9) and the smallest ones (57.2) was particularly wide. In the South and Islands, below-average performances were recorded both for nominal labour productivity and for labour costs per employee.
In 2018, agritourism farms recorded a slight growth (+ 0.9%), compared to 2017, with a positive balance of 209 companies. At the territorial level, there was an increase in the South and Islands (+ 4.6%), in the Centre (+ 1.4%) and in the North-West (+ 1.3%) and a decline in the Islands (-7.6%) . The North-East remained essentially unchanged (+ 0.5%). In particular, in the South the most dynamic Region was Puglia (+ 16.5%), while in the Centre Umbria (+ 2.1%) and Lazio (+ 2.0%) emerged; in the North-East, instead, the highest growth was recorded in Veneto (+ 2.2%). In the North-West, a 2.2% increase in Lombardia was associated with a 3.2% decline in the Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste. Toscana, Umbria and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol were the regions with the highest density of agritourism farms (more than 20 farms per 100 sq km). The female presence in the management of agritourism farms was higher in Basilicata (50.8%), Liguria (49.8%), Campania (49.1%), Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste (48.3%) and Abruzzo (48%).
In 2018, 114.4 million kilograms of plant protection products were distributed in Italy, of which 54.3% in the North, 11.5% in the Centre and 34.2% in the South and Islands. In particular, the North-East was confirmed as the geographical area with the highest amount of active substances contained in plant protection products distributed per hectare of UAA (equal to 8.83 kilograms per hectare of UAA). Overall, there was a decrease in the quantity of active substances distributed throughout the country; this phenomenon affected all geographical areas.
In 2018, the North-East was confirmed as the area with the greatest overall distribution of fertilizers (38.2% of Italy's total). Compared to 2017, there was a general decrease in the distribution of fertilizers, in particular in the Centre (-12.5% ) and in the South and Islands (-7.5%), where straight fertilizers were also decreasing (-5.7% and -4.1% respectively). Conversely, in the North-West, there was an increase in both total (+2,6%) and simple (+5,7%) fertilizers.
In 2018, the amount of straight fertilizers distributed per hectare of UAA was 0.21 tonnes in the North-East, value unchanged from the previous year; in the North-West it rose from 0.15 to 0.16 tonnes; in the Centre and South and Islands it was equal to 0.05 and 0.08 tonnes respectively.
The average size of European agricultural holdings, in terms of UAA, varies greatly. At the extremities of the ranking there are the Czech Republic, with 130.2 hectares and Malta, with 1.2 hectares. Italy, with 11.0 hectares, ranks among the ten countries with a size below the EU average (16.6 hectares).
Italy is confirmed as the first country for the number of agri-food quality products with PDO PGI and TSG labels. The quality products recognized as of the 31st of December 2017 were 295 (4 more than in 2016).
The countries belonging to the Mediterranean area that, in addition to ours, enhance their quality productions are: France (245 products), Spain (195) and, to a lesser extent, Portugal and Greece (138 and 106 products respectively). Italian high-quality agri-food products cover more than a quarter of the total (26.7%) of PDO awards, 17.7% of PGI awards and 3.6% of TSG awards issued by the European Union.
Sectors with the highest number of awards are fruit and vegetables and cereals followed, at a distance, by cheeses, extra virgin olive oils and meat preparations.