FS Italiane and Coldiretti, joint initiatives to strengthen the agri-food chain and protect soil

Innovative projects are being studied for: the transport and enhancement of agri-food products; green energy set-ups in FS areas instead of on agricultural land; farmers’ market in disused stations. 

Rome, 19 November 2021

Strengthening the role of the railway as instrumental and functional infrastructure for logistics in the interest of sustainable development of the agri-food chain, innovative programmes on the use of ecological substances from the circular bioeconomy along the tracks, the regeneration of real estate assets for farmers’ markets in Campagna Amica, using the land alongside railways and roads for renewable energy installations instead of taking up agricultural land.

These are just some of the objectives set out in an agreement presented by Coldiretti and the FS Italiane Group at the International Forum for Agriculture and Food at Villa Miani in Rome. The agreement – signed by the Chair of Coldiretti, Ettore Prandini, and by Luigi Ferraris, CEO of the FS Italiane Group – sets out a series of wide-reaching projects, with a view to a collaborative and sustainable development model.

Amongst the hypotheses being studied is that of hosting farmers’ markets in abandoned buildings or small- and medium-sized stations, perhaps along with fairs and events. Then there is the verification, in conjunction with other partners, of the possibility of utilising spaces or land today serving transport infrastructure, to instead be utilised to produce green and solar energy, thus avoiding the need to take useful resources away from the national agricultural sector. A further topic is the definition of innovative programmes on the use of green chemical substances on the terrains of mutual competence, such as the areas near the tracks.

The goal is to maintain the 17,000 kilometres of rail network in a state of efficiency in an ecological and safe manner, through the study and testing of entirely green products that are biodegradable in the soil and do not generate residues in the earth or in the treated plants.

Coldiretti and FS thus confirm their mutual commitment to soil protection, to the integral sustainability of the development model in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals and with the European Green Deal and Farm-to-Fork strategies. Continuing in the direction of protecting agricultural land and the production capacity of Italian agriculture – the strategic nature of which has been made even more evident by the pandemic – comes the idea of using instrumental areas for railway and road infrastructures for the production of renewable energy, such as solar, as an alternative to the use of cultivated fields.

The agreement also foresees the study of possible integrated logistics solutions for the agri-food supply chains, especially heading towards Germany, of infrastructural solutions at the service of agri-food logistics as part of Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan, and possible agri-food product supply agreements with companies.

“Today’s agreement is an example of the collaboration that the FS Italiane Group is executing with various stakeholders, as protagonists – together with us – on the path towards the Group’s sustainable development goals for our country,” affirmed Luigi Ferraris, CEO of the FS Group. “Strengthening the activities for the agri-food chain and sharing a more ecological vision with Coldiretti regarding land use and the areas adjacent to railways and roads, demonstrates how we can move towards a new, more responsible and inclusive economic model.”

“Not a single hectare of fertile land must be taken away from agriculture at a time of great tension caused by the pandemic,” stated the President of Coldiretti, Ettore Prandini, in underlining the need to reconcile renewable energy production with respect for the territory, the landscape and the food needs of the population. “Italian agriculture is the greenest in Europe and has a responsibility to seize all opportunities that come from Made in Italy innovation to minimise environmental impact.”