Lentil value chain based on the PGI “Lenticchia di Altamura” (Alta Murgia, Italy)
Local production of high-quality traditional varieties of pulses is widespread all over Italy, and especially in Central-Southern Regions. However, the cultivated amount is still very low (considering the overall Italian cropping system), despite the growths registered in the last 3-4 years.
In Apulia and Basilicata, for instance, lentil was a major crop until the 70s, when the subsidies allocated by the CAP favoured the cultivation of durum wheat and led to the progressive abandon of lentil and other minor crops, with negative drawbacks in terms of agri-environmental sustainability of cropping systems and, recently, also in terms of farmers income.
At the beginning of the 2000s, a group of farmers, supported and coordinated by scientists, processors and policy-makers, restarted to grow lentil in its former area, with the aim to establish a more structured value chain and to increase farmers’ income and diversification of products. Huge efforts were put also in communication campaigns oriented to valorise the characteristics of the product and link farmers with food companies and end users. Their efforts resulted in the formal recognition by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture of the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) “Lenticchia di Altamura” in 2016 and, finally, by the EU in December 2017. Nowadays, the consortium is made by around farmers and covers an area of more than 1000 ha grown with lentil and located between Apulia and Basilicata, an area which is intended to expand in the coming years with the aim to meet the most of the national lentil demand.
The key stakeholder of this value chain is the Packaging Company “Terre di Altamura” created by the main actors of the consortium: it is deeply involved in networking, innovation and communication. It brings forward in the commercial scenario the energy and the tasks of the consortium, which even has the same name.