THE FARMERS' STORIES
A GUARDIAN ANGEL
Rino Mercuri is a young farmer from Borgo Cervaro, in the province of Foggia, in the heart of the plain of Apulia, among the dunes of wheat that blend into the horizon. The head of a family business, Rino is proof of hope, he is proof that going back to the future is possible and necessary. He talks about his wheat like a son, and the same thing goes for his asparaguses, tomatoes and artichokes. Rino is a farmer but first of all he is a man who lives to complete a mission.We farmers are the last guardians of these parts. If we were to go away, a desert and brushwood would take the place of biodiversity, land put to crops according to the seasons.
I don't know when I decided to do this job, I grew up doing it, there was never any real decision but a passing of the baton. To me it's the best job that exists and I can't see myself holding down another job. I'm 31 now and have officially been a commercial farmer for eight years.
The business is run by me and my family. We grow crops of asparaguses, tomatoes, artichokes as well as winter vegetables including fennel, broccoli, cabbage and durum wheat.
After all we live on the plain of Apulia and our most important crop is wheat. The production volume of wheat is roughly 25%-30%. Since my family started the business 50 years ago, we have dedicated a good part of our production to this cereal. But now things have changed. Up until 4 years ago we used to produce durum wheat aiming for the largest quantity we could get.
Thanks to the Armando deal, we've begun focussing on quality and are discovering that it's possible to cultivate wheat with high protein content in this zone.
Rino has been captivated by the Grano Armando project and straight away understood the sense and revolutionary charge.
I joined the programme the first year with 5 - 6 hectares of land, accepting a challenge that everyone said I wouldn't win. After proving them wrong, other commercial farms have accepted the challenge and today we've grown to 350 hectares.
The agreement tests our ability to be commercial farmers and on the other hand it gives us the security of an income. It gives us a fair price. On the one hand it covers the risk, on the other hand it forces us to reach standards of quality requiring spending that's unnecessary to a production that puts quantity before everything.
But that's not all. We have to contend with high quality varieties of Canadian, Australian and American wheat and we have to do so by putting our land to wheat crops mostly in the south. It's important to understand this: with the production of high quality pasta what benefits from this is the zone. Because quality of wheat being equal, the difference between the origin of a raw material and investing in our area, in Italy, can only be good for Italy.
Generating income in the agricultural sector means continuing to cultivate the land, not turning our backs on the fields.
We farmers are the last guardians of these parts. If we were to go away, a desert and brushwood would take the place of biodiversity, land put to crops according to the seasons.
But luckily there is a noticeable change in the younger generation in the way they approach farming, which is more scientific than before. Some farmers are beginning to look into this aspect, there's a great deal of interest in farming, especially young people and a wave of freshness that's creating innovation.
Grano Armando is a door to the future of these parts, and a door to the future of farming in these parts.
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.DISCOVER THE FARMERS