THE FARMERS' STORIES

Maurizio Iurisci

Farmer
Maurizio's Videostory

MAURIZIO IURISCI'S WHEAT: THE PRECISION OF EXCELLENCE

Santa Maria Imbaro is a small town in the heart of Abruzzo, in the province of Chieti. In this place greenery blends in with the horizon, it's a particular and unique sort of greenery. Maurizio Iurisci was born and raised in that greenery and so was his son, who since he was small learned the smell of hard work and to love that colour. But that's not all that he loves. Because Maurizio is a pioneer. He was one of the first farmers in the area to believe in producing quality wheat. He was one of the first farmers who believed there was room in those valleys for a sea of gold.

Wheat is not the crop traditionally passed down by my family, since olive and beetroot were the main crops.

I introduced it alternating it with sugar beet and my son has learnt to cultivate it with me and take care of it. It's not a typical crop of our zone, but I believed I could make a go of it.

Maurizio talks about his wheat as if he were talking about a son needing to be taken care of from birth with precision:

Wheat is a crop that requires care. It needs to be taken care of from sowing to threshing, it should not be left by itself after sowing. Traditional wheat farming has two steps: sowing and harvesting. But one cannot obtain quality wheat like that. It should be taken care of and work should be done when required. It's the only way to get very good results.

The flag leaf should be kept in very good health. It's responsible for nourishment and the quality of the wheat. We have to do everything to keep it healthy, green and lush.

He has passed down this same precision to his eldest son who tells us about a timeless love and a real father, wise and strict advisor:

I look after the ploughing, getting the sowing bed ready. I don't remember when I started. I've always looked after that, I've always worked with him, I've always been alongside him. My father is demanding at times, but that's how he's supposed to be, I'm young, he has to teach me...

Maurizio is proud of his children and doesn't hide it at all:

Working with one's children is challenging. It can happen that we don't understand each other, that we don't share the same passion or the same interest. With my son there was an understanding straight away, we understood each other from the start.

The same things goes for the second one who's only 16. as soon as he comes home from school he comes to work with me. I started working when I was 14, this is a job I advise all youths to do. It's a wonderful job that requires patience and caution, however.

One must keep notes on what was done in past years and read the notes from time to time. Never be superficial. Notes should be kept on the crop, type of fertiliser, types of weeding and treatments.

Maurizio is setting an example and not just for his sons:

We not only follow the rules of cultivating in our fields, we set examples for our neighbours, we give advice, we teach them how to cultivate properly and wheat cultivation has spread to other fields that do not belong to us. We're also working for others, but it's the same thing, we make the same effort, we have the same passion and the same responsibility.

The secret is crop rotation: beetroot, corn and forage are alternated with wheat.

Beetroot is demanding: it is sown twice a year, in October and March, plus irrigations, weeding, and fertiliser treatments. It needs watering constantly. When we're busy with the harvest farm hands look after the irrigation.

To completely understand the value of what Maurizio is doing on his farm, we are helped by Emilio Romagnoli, who has a PhD in agronomy, Syngenta has assigned to the zone:

One of my responsibilities is to check how things are going at the commercial farms, like Maurizio's to obtain results. My job is to help him when he asks for help, if he has any problems he can't solve on his own and to keep track of treatments done until wheat is obtained with the characteristics required by the supply chain. In this case very good quality wheat with no less than 14.5% proteins. I talk to Maurizio no less than once a week and he's always bringing me up to date on how things are going.

This is the most profound goal of the Armando Deal: ongoing and obstinate search for excellence, putting quality first combined with large quantities. Grano Armando is made from the hard work of people like Maurizio:

The cultivation method is demanding for any farmer. It's not enough to obtain wheat with certain characteristics; it's necessary to ensure that everyone who is a part of the supply chain is satisfied. Not just the farmer but also wheat distributors who need to have a healthy raw material and last but not least, the pasta maker who needs good levels of proteins and gluten in order to make high quality pasta.

The guaranteed minimum price is a good place to start, if the market increases the value, one gets an increase. According to the traditional method of cultivating wheat, producing for quantity allows for recovering expenses to the detriment of quality. In this way the supply chain changes its focus. It starts from a base price as long as one grows a certain type of wheat. Afterwards one does not miss the market trend boat which might be more advantageous, because the deal itself calls for an adjustment. However, one starts from a minimum and with that minimum one is able to cover expenses.

We are convinced by Maurizio's enthusiasm:

I always try to do everything the best I can, taking care, always being aware of what I'm doing because the result of this effort can be seen in the harvest.

It's an authentic revolution, a new production model, seed sown for the future:

The guaranteed minimum price is a good place to start, if the market increases the value, one gets an increase. According to the traditional method of cultivating wheat, producing for quantity allows for recovering expenses to the detriment of quality. In this way the supply chain changes its focus. It starts from a base price as long as one grows a certain type of wheat. Afterwards one does not miss the market trend boat which might be more advantageous, because the deal itself calls for an adjustment. However, one starts from a minimum and with that minimum one is able to cover expenses.

I always try to do everything the best I can, taking care, always being aware of what I'm doing because the result of this effort can be seen in the harvest.

Romagnoli can only back up his story:

Maurizio is one of those people one can establish a close relationship with, putting aside the fact that it's a business relationship. I haven't known him long, but we got along straight away. We're not afraid to tell each other the truth, as it should be in the best relationships. The willingness, application and constance he puts in his work are important qualities people can appreciate.

But all in all it's the way Maurizio is why things are going so well:

Pasta is like a house, one must build a good foundation.

The Armando Agreement is much more than a business deal. It is the sharing of a certain vision of the future by those who live off of wheat. By signing it, the producer, farmers and agronomists commit to producing high quality raw material, sealing an authentic tie existing between the ground, wheat and pasta.

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