The agricultural sector in Italy operates under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). European strategies pay a growing attention towards the environmental impact and food quality. Therefore, suitable indicators are essential not only for the economic analysis of the sector, but also for the assessment of the environmental impact and the qualification of new activities, which combine economic growth with the sustainability and protection of the rural environment.
In recent years, the farm holiday sector has shown a positive trend. Indeed, between 2007 and 2019, the number of agritourism farms businesses went from 17,720 to 24,576 (+39%). The positive trend affected the current value of farm holiday production, which, between 2007 and 2019, rose from 1.08 to 1.50 billion euros (+ 29%). Some key indicators revealed the dynamism of the sector: the number of municipalities hosting holiday farms increased by 63%, in 2019 (against 58% in 2011); in addition, presences increased by 4.7% and arrivals by 9.5%, compared to the previous year. The type of farm holiday services supplied has increasingly diversified. In particular, in 2019, the tasting and food activities increased respectively by 14.6% end 4.8%, compared to the previous year. One of the innovative features of this sector was the growth of educational agritourism farms, which in 2019 were 1,715 (1,516 in the previous year) and they amounted to 7% of the overall total (in 2018, 6.4%). Women run 40.2% of educational agritourism farms. In general, the number of agritourism farm run by women was equal to 8,566 (35%) and it was stable compared to the previous year. This result may be the consequence of two different trends: an increase in the presence of women in the Islands (+ 8.2%) and in the South (+ 2.5%) and, at the same time, a decrease in the Center (-1.6%) and in the Northeast (-1.3%).
The quality agro-food products, PDO, PGI and TSG labelled, were the excellence of the Italian agro-food sector. The importance of this sector is emphasized by the Italian primacy in the number of PDO, PGI and TSG certifications granted by the European Union. Between 2017 and 2018, the number of the certified operators in the quality agro-food products rose by 3.4%. In the same period, the producers rose by 4.4% while the transformers fell by 1.2%.
The distribution of fertilizing products declined from 4,572,288 tons in 2018 to 4,345,403 in 2019 (-5.0%). In particular, the distribution of simple fertilizers amounted to 1,148,165 tons, decreased by 11%, compared to 2018.
In 2019, the overall distribution of phytosanitary products dropped from 114.4, in 2018, to 111.0 (-3%). The trend further slowed down both in the quantity of active ingredients contained in the distributed phytosanitary products, which from just over 54 million kilograms, in 2018, dropped to just under 49 million kilograms (-10.2%), and active substances distributed per hectare (from 4.3 kilograms per hectare of UAA, in 2018, to 3.86 in 2019).
In 2019, compared to the previous year, agritourism farms increased by 4.1% with a positive balance of 961 farms. This growth concerned in particular the Center (+ 8.7%), the Islands (+ 6.4%) and the South (+ 3.0%). The number of agritourisms in the Northeast was quite stable (+ 0.1%), while the North-West recorded a slight increase (+ 1.1%). As in 2018, the regions with the highest density of agritourisms (more than 25 per 100 sq. km) are Toscana, Umbria and Trentino-Alto Adige/Sudtirol. Other high-intensity areas are located in the South of Piemonte, in the eastern area of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, in the westernmost area of ââVeneto and Liguria and in the South of Puglia. The highest density was registered in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano/Bozen (over 100 agritourisms per 100 sq. km). The farmhouses run by women accounted for 43% in the South, 37.9% in the Center and 28.5% in the North. In particular, Basilicata ranked again first (49.8%), followed by Liguria (48.6%), Campania (48.4%), Abruzzo (47.9%) and Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d’Aoste (47. 5%).
Between 2017 and 2018 the number of producers of the quality agro-food products rose mostly in the northwestern (+11.3%) and southern regions (+9%). In addition, in the North-West the transformers’ number rose, while it fell in all the other geographical areas, with the only exception of the South (+2%).
In 2019, the Northeast was again the area with the greatest distribution of fertilizers (36.7% of the total fertilizers distributed in Italy). Compared to 2018, however, the distribution of fertilizers generally decreased, in particular in the North East (-8.6%) and in the Center (-7.0%), where in addition simple fertilizers slowed down (-14.4 % and -10.6% respectively). In 2019, the quantity of simple fertilizers distributed per hectare of UAA amounted to 0.18 tons in the Northeast (-0.03 compared to the previous year); 0.16 tons in the North-West (stable); 0.07 and 0.04 tons in the Center and the South respectively.
In 2019, 111.0 million kilograms of phytosanitary products were distributed in Italy: 54.9% in the North, 11.3% in the Centre and 33.8% in the South and Islands. In particular, the greatest quantity of active ingredients contained in phytosanitary products per hectare of UAA (equal to 7.88 kilograms per hectare of UAA) was distributed in the Northeast. An overall decrease was registered in the quantity of active ingredients distributed in all the geographical areas.
Italy was still the first country for the number of agro-food quality products with PDO, PGI and TSG labels. The quality products recognized as of 31 December 2017 were 295 (4 more than in 2016). Countries belonging to the Mediterranean area, which enhanced their quality productions, were France (245 products), Spain (195) and, to a lesser extent, Portugal and Greece (138 and 106 products respectively). Italian high-quality agro-food products amounted to more than a quarter of PDO awards (26.7%), 17.7% of PGI awards and 3.6% of TSG awards issued by the European Union. Sectors with the highest number of awards are fruit, vegetables, and cereals followed by cheeses, extra virgin olive oils and meat preparations