Italy: A Journey through Sustainable Sardinia in the Footsteps of Sicco Mansholt

Recently Hayo Haanstra, Agricultural Counselor,  and Antonella Candido, Agricultural Officer of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food Security and Nature at the Dutch Embassy in Rome, went on a business trip to Sardinia, instrumental in promoting and learning about sustainable agricultural practices and fostering collaborations. This article discusses the key highlights.

Teulada and Sicco Mansholt: a Legacy for the Future

The trip began on 26 June in Teulada, a beautiful place on the southernmost coast of Sardinia, where Sicco Mansholt, first Euro-Commissioner for Agriculture, drew inspiration in the many summers he spent there in his holiday retreat: the simplicity of life, the profound connection to nature which influenced all agricultural activities led him to profound reflections becoming the source of his visionary ideas about sustainable agriculture in stark contrast with the policies of the time.  Our delegation received a warm reception in Teulada by Salvatore Loi, a local expert on Mansholt, Giacomo Baizini, owner of Mansholt’s former estate, Angelo Milia, Mayor of Teulada, Gian Luca Urru, Deputy Mayor of Teulada  alongside many citizens who had met and grew very fond of Sicco Mansholt during his stays in Teulada  Plans for the upcoming celebrations in autumn in honour of Sicco Mansholt were laid out by all counterparts. 

Bioma Natura: Holism goes Hand in Hand with Sustainability

The Dutch delegation, visited then Bioma Natura -led by its business manager Martina Bassetto- a traditional cereal farm transformed by Antonio and Lazzaro Fois into a holistic operation aimed at personal growth through the cultivation and production of organic herbs, essences and cosmetics and other activities fostering well-being. This multifunctional approach underscores the potential for sustainable agriculture in Sardinia. At Bioma Natura they also had the chance to meet with some local and national representatives of Confagricoltura, and had the possibility of hearing about the state of the art of agriculture in Sardinia.

Meeting with the Regional Agricultural Councillor

The  meeting with the Regional Agricultural Councillor Gian Franco Satta highlighted the challenges in Sardinian agriculture, including an aging farming population and a still too weak collaboration among farmers. The Dutch delegation was given a bird-eye view into the situation of Sardinian agriculture, where an innovative approach is needed to preserve tradition and boost agricultural productivity and sustainability.

Persea: Innovation, Circularity, Synergy, Reforestation, Sustainability

The delegation had an inspiring visit at Persea, led by Paolo Frigati, an innovative company which aims, among others, to produce Italy’s first organic avocados by 2025. The project employs regenerative and multifunctional practices, transforming 700 hectares into a sustainable agricultural model, involving bees, aquaculture and black soldier flies, where the key factors are reforestation, precision agriculture, synergy and circularity.

The Importance of the Analysys of Sector Organisations

The final day involved discussions with Coldiretti representatives about the issues facing Sardinian agriculture, such as depopulation, poor land access, lack of training, lack of collaboration among the many small enterprises. Tradition should be cherished and boosted through innovation, since Sardinia starts with the advantage of not knowing intensive farming.

The trip to Sardinia underlined the region’s potential for sustainable agriculture and strengthened our relationships with local stakeholders. We look forward to continued collaboration and celebrating Sicco Mansholt’s legacy in promoting sustainable agricultural practices. 

Beeld: ©Antonella Candido