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Chestnut Shortage?

The Italian farmers' organization Coldiretti declared that a combination of unfavourable weather and the attack of parasites has led to a huge drop in the chestnut production this year, hitting a historic low.

This year only 20 million kg of chestnuts are expected to be produced. The average production in the early 2000's was around 60 million and a century ago the amount was 82 million.


All the regions of Italy produce chestnuts, but the majority of the production is in the south, which unfortunately has been badly affected by drought. The Campania region has always been the main producer.


The chestnut trees have been plagued by Chinese parasite gall wasps, which were first recorded in Piedmont in 2002 and spread throughout the country. According to Coldiretti gall wasps were the main cause responsible for the destruction of the chestnuts in the south, while in the northern areas the situation has greatly improved.   


In order to save the season the local branch of Coldiretti met the local farmers to work out solutions for the possible fall of production by as much as 90 percent.


After an increase of production in 2015 with 60 thousand tons, preceded by 45 thousand tons in 2014, which already represented a record low, the 2016 chestnut picking is gong to be the the worst ever.


Coldiretti, in collaboration with other associations, asked for the application of the measure 4 of the rural development program 2014-2020, with priority for chestnut companies involved in agronomic investments. It also requires an allowance for chestnut growers for their efforts in the protection of areas risking abandonment. 


Coldiretti Campania also requested the formulation of a regional law to regulate chestnut production.


The danger is that many companies will have to close down because they won't be able to produce the minimum income needed to survive. Therefore Italy will probably have to import chestnuts from neighbouring countries such as Spain, Portugal and Albania. Already in 2015 around 32 million kg were imported, compared to just 6 million in 2010. The farmers organization warned that this could intensify the problem, as the imported nuts could be passed off as local produce, in this way lowering the incomes for Italian producers.


Chestnut trees are important for maintaining geological balance in hilly and mountainous areas, and they make up ten percent of all Italian forests.

Coldiretti urges consumers to pay attention to quality and suggests going to farmers' markets such as “Campagna Amica” or festivals scheduled in these days throughout Italy. In this way it's possible to make good quality purchases or, by contacting farms, rediscover the pleasure of participating in the chestnut picking in the woods.

Giulia Lombardo

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