Italy’s rice producers sounded the alarm on over competition from Asia, saying the national industry was in crisis. Italian farmers’ association, Coldiretti said that imports of rice from Asia were driving the price of the home-grown staple to unsustainable low levels, whereas the lax labeling laws of the Nation meant families could not trace the origins of products on supermarket shelves. “Over the last year, the sale price of rice has halved and the number of imports has quadrupled from Southeast Asia,” said Roberto Moncalvo, head of Coldiretti.
The rice producers rallied in protest outside the agriculture ministry in Rome claiming that the country’s consumers were unknowingly buying pesticide-contaminated grains harvested by exploited child labors of some of rice importing Asian countries. Mr. Roberto disclosed that the rice grown in Southeast Asia was, “dangerous, grown using pesticides and by exploiting underage labour”. “One in four packets of rice sold in Italy come from abroad, but the consumer does not know because the origin is not on the label,” he lamented.
“Italy is Europe’s largest producer of rice and could be more than self-sufficient if limited to home-grown grains. More than 4,200 farms in the Mediterranean country produce 1.6 million tons of rice a year.” Coldiretti said in a statement. “Farmers have to sell three kilos of unrefined rice to pay for a simple coffee because of speculation and swindling which has hit national rice fields and is harming consumers,” added Coldiretti.