Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rice farming in Italy

Piedmontese Cattle in Italy

Look how tall this corn is!

Day 5, Sunday, August 5: We ventured west of Milan to the Lowland Piedmont area where the main agricultural products are rice, maize, grapes and milk. More than 10 percent of Italy's rice production occurs in this region.

Our first stop for the day was to a Piedmontese cattle breeder. Mr. Livio Rigazio has 70 hectares: 20 for hay, 50 for maize, a small section of soybeans, and 200 kiwi fruit trees. They also raise and finish 70 Piedmont cattle for beef. Known for their double muscling, the breed offers lean and tender beef. All of their beef stays in Italy with half going to traditional butcher shops and half to supermarkets.

We made our way to Desana to visit the Tenuta Castello rice farm. The farm has 300 hectares of rice, which they process and package in their on-site rice mill. The rice is harvested in September of each year and the average yield is 50-75 tons per hectare depending on the selection.

One interesting fact we learned is that the rice fields are hand weeded from mid-July through harvest. A group of women walk barefoot through the rice paddies so they can feel for weeds to pull! They are paid 70 Euro an hour for their back-breaking work.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to Italy and head to Switzerland.

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