Farming today is no longer just cultivating the land, caring for animals and producing food, but it is also connecting that rural world – and its uses, values, peculiarities and capacities – to the surrounding environment.
As shown by ISMEA in its Report on Agricultural Multifunctionality and Agritourism (2018) Italian agriculture is one of the most multifunctional in Europe, with activities between the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Multifunctional farms carry out activities that go from the production of goods, to the artisanal transformation of them, from hospitality to catering, from educational services to social services. The offer is varied: recreational, cultural, educational, naturalistic, sports, health, herbal. All of these activities are the fruit of creativity that, especially young people, instil in this sector. The success of agricultural multifunctionality in Italy is witnessed by the increasing interest of service users. In fact, the activities that concern short food supply chain, rural tourism and didactic agriculture (the three domains of eTOMATO project) constitute an increasingly important share of Italian agricultural production, representing 22.4% of the value of agricultural production.
At the same time, with regard to the educational and social activities carried out in agriculture, areas of multi-functionality in strong evolution, there is a strong dynamism both in terms of the number of active businesses and in terms of demand for services by private individuals (families, associations, institutions) and the public system.
On a European level, Italy holds 27.4% of the value of secondary activities (such as agritourism, educational, social, renewable energy production, etc.) produced overall in the EU, maintaining the primacy.
The report shows that in our time agriculture plays a central role in the interests of citizens, politics and administrations and, although bureaucratic and fiscal barriers still exist, the future aims at an ever-greater high awareness of the value of agricultural work.
Therefore, the interest in multifunctional agriculture is a concrete reality and we believe that with our project eTOMATO we are going in the right direction, increasing the interest towards a sector in continuous future-oriented evolution.