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News of 20/03/2018

'Red gold', that's how they call Pachino's tomato. A treasure known and appreciated all over the world but worth much less than gold. Indeed little or nothing, now. So in its town of origin, in the far south of Sicily, the tomato remains in the greenhouses. In recent months the market price has fallen dramatically due to massive imports from foreign countries. And in Pachino farmers refuse to collect it because it is not convenient, they leave it on the plants. "Making a kilo of tomato costs me one euro, between the purchase of the plan and the costs of plastic, hooks, taxes, workers who have to collect it and then transport it - tells ilfattoquotidiano.it Sebastiano Cinnirella, farmer -, now the cherry is sold at 50-60 cents per kg, at 30 the salad tomato. It is not worth collecting it ". Sebastiano's company is a company without an IGP brand that has been dealing with the same problems for years, but in recent times the situation seems to plummet. "If we work like that for another month, I do not even take plastic money - he adds - and all those I have spent are losing". The slap for Pachino farmers is materialized in a small local supermarket, where the 'datterino' tomato imported from Cameroon is sold at a price of 1 euro and 39 cents per kg. "Distribution should make it easier for us to sell the product, but at the same time it is the one that damages us - says Paolo Cavallaro, another farmer -, because we can not compete with these prices". And they point the finger at the treaties signed by the European Union with the countries of North Africa, starting with that of 1996 with Morocco, which provide for "reciprocal liberalization measures for agricultural products" and "for processed agricultural products". But foreign producers have lower production costs, and it is impossible for the Sicilian competitors to compete. "The first signs of the crisis start with those agreements", says farmer Aldo Beninato. That tells of having met five ministers in these years: "But we have only received promises and taken for a ride". Aldo's is an activity that has lasted for generations, the cultivation of the land inherited from his grandfather. Part of its greenhouses were destroyed during the snowfall of 2014, and while it still waits for the Region of Sicily to provide it with the money to build new plants, it does not stop plowing the fields. "Minister Maurizio Martina (Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies in the Renzi and Gentiloni Governments, editor's note) was committed to selling to large-scale retailers, promising a supply chain route for this - Aldo says bitterly - there was no such thing, we are abandoned to ourselves ". The ministry, answering the question of some Sicilian deputies of the Democratic Party, had confirmed that they would "take action at the European Commission to request an intervention on the level of withdrawal prices applicable for certain fruit and vegetables, among which the different types of tomato". "This is my land, this is my job," explains another sadly Sebastiano. "If they tell me I have to close, I'll put a saucer in front of the church entrance". And with him there could be many, among young and old farmers, to stop cultivating the red gold of Sicily by Saul Caia and Francesco Midolo

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