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Food, the production of Italian chilli peppers is scarce, we need a relaunch

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Spicy enough, but still to be discovered: between taste, health and territory, the Italian chili pepper was presented in an event organized by Crea in collaboration with the National Rural Network, today in Rome. Researchers from different disciplines and producers, in the presence of Undersecretary Mipaaf Francesco Battistoni, discussed the prospects of a product that could still grow a lot and that is one of the gastronomic symbols of our country. In fact, the demand for chilli peppers by Italian consumers is high, but the national production is scarce and covers only 30% of the needs. The rest comes from non-EU markets (2 thousand tons per year from China, Egypt, Turkey), is imported at bargain prices (1/5 less) and is characterized by low quality standards, which penalize the made in Italy supply chain. In Italy, in fact, from 10 kg of fresh chilli pepper 1 kg of dried product is obtained, ground into 100% pure powder and marketable for 15 euros, while the same product from China has a cost of only 3 euros, and is the result of very coarse harvesting and processing techniques, with which the seedling is entirely shredded – including petiole, leaves, roots – with poor quality guarantees and phytosanitary requirements very different from those respected in our country. easily sophisticated and even when the chili is imported fresh or semi-processed from Turkey or Egypt, its quality is compromised by the use of many preservatives. Research is committed to the relaunching of a national supply chain. Therefore, greater protection is needed for the product which, thanks to the microclimate and the orographic characteristics of the soil, finds in our country the ideal environment for its cultivation. The creation of denominations of territorial origin would give the consumer a guarantee of quality, traceability, healthiness and an added value adequate to the productive part, incentivized to increase its extensive cultivation, present today especially in Calabria (100 hectares, with 25% of production), Lazio, Basilicata, Campania and Abruzzo. In this way, we would meet the ever growing demand of the food industry and the needs of exports (50% of Calabrian production goes to the Netherlands). “Among the seeds, chilli pepper represents one of the excellences of our Made in Italy that we must defend and protect from external attacks such as the Nutriscore traffic light labeling system” declared Battistoni. “Chilli pepper is a product that represents our territories and agriculture is recognizing its importance by combining traditional crops with organic ones, so much so that the hectares of dedicated organic cultivation are in strong increase”.

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