Italian experts discuss strategies to move from Agri-tech 4.0 to Agri-tech 5.0

Barbara Beltrame, Vice President, Confindustria; Alessandro Malavolti, President, FederUnacoma; Jose Rallo, Board of Directors, Italian Trade Agency; HE Nicola Lener, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE; Alessandro Paini, General Manager/President, SACMI Beverage; Massimiliano Giansanti, President, Confagricoltura

Italy is renowned for its excellence in the use of new technologies for farming, as well as for its leadership in organic crops. Such leadership is achieved trough the use of advanced machinery throughout the entire food supply chain, from agricultural production to food transformation, fields where Italy ranks 1st and 4th for exports worldwide. Moreover, Italian agri-food clusters are devoted to combining innovation and tradition, with a growing attention to sustainability and to the environment.

The discussion on the Italian Agrifood sector continued yesterday on the occasion of the Innovation Talk “Italian Technologies for Sustainable Agriculture and Circular Economy”; organized by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), in cooperation with the Embassy of Italy in the UAE, the Consulate General in Dubai and the Italian Commissioner’s Office of the Italy Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, the talk put the spotlight on how Italy is incorporating new technologies and circular economy principles into their traditional processes of agriculture.

The Innovation Talk was officially opened by Paolo Glisenti, Commissioner General Italy’s Pavilion and the panel of experts, moderated by Josè Rallo, Board of Directors, Italian Trade Agency, included Barbara Beltrame, Vice President, Confindustria; Massimiliano Giansanti, President, Confagricoltura; Giulia Giuffrè, Irritec Board Member & Sustainability Ambassador; Alessandro Malavolti, President, FederUnacoma; Alessandro Paini, General Manager/President, SACMI Beverage. HE Nicola Lener, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, also attended the event and shard with the public his closing remarks.

Guest speakers presented some Italian innovations applied to the agri-food sector, in line with the UN 2030 Agenda and the global objectives of sustainability and social responsibility, looking forward to a new way of thinking about agriculture. The use of precision farming for collecting and elaborating useful data for rationalizing the use of natural resources and circular agriculture aimed at using a minimum amount of external inputs were discussed.

Agriculture demands new technologies to save water, fertilizers, energy and labor; it is the sector that accounts for the consumption of the largest amount of water – 70% of global fesh water use – and the use of freshwater resources has grown sixfold in the last century. Giulia Giuffrè, Irritec Board Member & Sustainability Ambassador, explained how technology applied to irrigation can drive sustainability; new irrigation systems, like drip irrigation, allow water and nutrient solutions to be given in small quantities keeping the ideal moiusture level of the root zone without wastes, and saving 50% of water compared to traditional systems of irrigation.

Blockchain technology can also be applied to agriculture to reduce food waste, to trace and track every production step, to protec the “Made in” from fraud and countefeating, to reduce food security risk and to provide accurate information to the consumer.

In the Food supply chain the packaging has a very important role too; “Reducing the material, refilling the same packaging and recycling are the trends that we see in the packaging industry to become more sustainable.” said Alessandro Paini, General Manager/President, SACMI Beverage, talking about sustainable packaging.

The case study of HubFarm a new digital platform developed in Italy to support agricultural enterprises in the technological, digital and ecological transition was presented by Massimiliano Giansanti, President, Confagricoltura.

Talking about developmental factors that companies need to consider to sustain their competitiveness at national and international level, Barbara Beltrame, Vice President, Confindustria, said: “Agriculture 4.0 represents an essential growth driver for the coming years towards companies’ transformation. Sustainability is the second growth driver to be considered. In this framework the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs), the deployment of the EU Common Agricuktural Policy 2027 and, in our case, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, are all resources and guidelines that must be exploited.”

“The machines are very sophisticated and complicated with a lot of functions. We need to have farmers that are well instructed. The technological innovation is so fast that farmers have difficulties in learning.” said Alessandro Malavolti, President, FederUnacomatalking about one of the challenges that Agriculture is facing in the digital transition.

The Innovation Talk took place alongside Gulfood Exhibition, the most important F&B exhibition in the region, where Italy is represented by 180 companies; delegates invited by ITA coming from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Ivory Cost, Angola, Croatia, Bahrain, Plaestine and Cyprus attended the Talk.

The Innovation Talks are a platform to foster the dialogue between Italy and UAE initiated by the Embassy of Italy to the UAE last year with InnovItaly and that will continue after Expo2020. Each talk feature highly-regarded personalities from both Italy and the UAE invited to discuss issues related to Expo 2020 Dubai’s weekly themes and the trade fairs ITA is participating in around the Emirates.

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