Exports in Italy are growing day by day as small scale farmers grow premium rice varieties which are popular across all health conscious connoisseurs and hence today Italy is Europe’s top rice producer.
Rice grown in Italy is considered to be a chic product for people with money. The “Baraggia” variety is the one which commands a far higher price due to EU quality assurance label. One other variety produced is “Vialone Nano”, selling at around 2,000 euros a tonne wholesale.
David Bonato, Chef at “Massimo” has commented that rice is a great treasure and it’s a really old tradition as he himself has cooked rice-based delicacies from starters to desserts.
There are approximately 250,000 hectares of rice fields across Po and the total output last season was of about 1.6 million tones as per the agriculture ministry.
The major export market is Britain- 45,718 tonnes sold last year as compared to only 32,074 last year. The export outside also increased to 119,510 tonnes last year from 100,053 tonnes in previous year. The biggest market for Italian rice is Turkey which rose by 139 percent and by 47 percent in Russia. Rice sold to China was only 25 tonnes
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has commented that there has been rise in European and U.S rice exports in the world due to new food habits in developed countries and new market niches in developing countries.
Local people like guides have commented that the soil in the region is suitable for rice cultivation as the land is flat with loads of clay which lets the water to stay on the surface.
Rice cultivation was initially introduced by Cistercian monks from France in the 12th century but it really took off with an irrigation mechanism designed by none other than Leonardo da Vinci — better known for painting the Mona Lisa.