More than 50 years after the hard life endured by northern Italians in the country’s rice paddy fields was memorialized in a classic film, farmers say their livelihood is under threat from cheap imports from Asia.
Italian rice farmers claims that theycan import rice from countries like Burma and Cambodia at much cheeper rate than their own home grown rice but they carry a high level of pesticides and herbicides.
Italy seems to be a place where the paddy fields are unlikely to found but the farmers have grown their with the struggle and this was potrayed in a film “Riso amaro” released in 1949.
The Italian rice industry is suffering badly from foreign competition as the italian farmers sell a tonne of home-grown risotto rice for 322 euros, producers in south-east Asia grow it for less than 200 euros a tonne building a tough competiton for the italian farmers.
Starting from Monday 14th July,201,Rice producers in the Po and Ticino valleys are on one week protests and strikes against the cheap imports.Demonstrations by Italy’s rice producers against duty-free rice imports from EBA countries continue. Yesterday in Novara Italy tractors and flags blocked the grain exchange for the whole morning. About 200 rice growers, millers and brokers were present. The event was organized by the union Agrinsieme, together with Airi, the Association of rice millers, and new association of rice brokers, Medi@rice. Today another growers’ union, Coldiretti, will
be in Rome to meet the Minister of Agriculture, Maurizio Martina, while other rice growers from the union Agrinsieme will stop activity in two other Italian exchanges quoting rice, located in Pavia and Vercelli. Tomorrow the same thing will happen in Milan, and on Friday in Mortara. The request is to press politicians to apply a safeguard clause against zero duty import to protect the European rice sector.
Roberto Moncalvo, the president of Coldiretti, a national farmers’ organisation said that “In the first six months of this year, rice coming from Cambodia has been subject to at least one fine every week because of the presence of unauthorised pesticides or the absence of the proper food safety certificates,”.He said that their import from Combodia has increased the rice import of Cambodia by about 360%.and if we continue on this rice we will have a rice on our plates with the high chemicals presence in it.
Italy’s exports of its prized risotto rice have fallen by 14 per cent in recent years as countries in Europe, including the Netherlands, Poland and France, turn to the cheaper Asian rice.