Agriculture in Calabria, prof speaks. Bernardi: “The ‘green’ turn is sacrosanct, but it takes time”

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By John

The green turn is very good, but «agriculture doesn’t make leaps, it needs time to be able to undertake a path as imagined by the European Union”. Bruno Bernardi, associate professor at the Faculty of Agriculture of the Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria, looks to the future with a very pragmatic attitude. He has no doubts about the need to introduce measures in agriculture that lead to the elimination of pesticides and polluting machines, but to «reach that objective, shared by all, time is needed. For this reason I believe that the EU was right to extend the use of pesticides for ten years. Agriculture is a complex and multifunctional system that needs time to adapt. There is no single solution for such different realities.” Professor Bernardi’s intervention is part of the protest that has led thousands of farmers to take to the streets in many European countries with their tractors against the policies of Brussels and the lack of support from national governments. The protest also concerns Calabria. In fact, there are still several checkpoints along the roads of our region.
«The prospect of a 50% reduction in pesticides in agriculture by 2030 – declares Bernardi – I believe is too stringent a limit. It is an ambitious objective which, however, clashes with the needs of agriculture. Agriculture doesn’t make leaps, it needs longer times to conform to certain parameters. We all agree that the “green deal” is the objective pursued by everyone, but it must be done in an intelligent way.”
And doing it intelligently, for Professor Bernardi, means that «the green and agricultural soul must coexist and not clash, undertaking a common path towards a gradual process. We start from the assumption that one of the first major regulations between the “green” vision and the world of agriculture dates back to 2009 and provided for the reduction of pesticides and their impact on humans. We all, therefore, recognize the dangers of pesticides, but modern agriculture cannot do it overnight. Indeed, at this moment he cannot do without it.” Another important aspect concerns the use of agricultural machinery which, as Bernardo explains, «despite the evolution of the technique it has not yet been possible to produce vehicles for example with electric batteries nor with technology that allows us to reduce the uncontrolled spreading of pesticides in the ‘environment. So, it’s still an obsolete fleet. To give you an idea, today in Italy we use 600 thousand agricultural machines: 200 thousand for herbaceous crops, 350 trees and 50 thousand for other uses for operators”.
In addition to dialogue, which is important for reaching a point of contact, research plays a central role for Bernardo: «In Italy it is very advanced, both in the machinery sector and in that of plant protection products with natural-based active ingredients. In this case, the research is producing good results, but it needs to be implemented. At Mediterranea in Reggio we have a department of both agriculture and forestry and environmental sciences (therefore with a green approach). Even in Calabria, advanced research is carried out, very intensively, both on plant protection products, genetics and machinery. Furthermore, in Calabria we produce various excellent products with the Dop and Igp brands. The policy, for example, could encourage Calabrian farmers towards organic farming, in line with what is proposed by the EU”.