An initiative underway in Italy will look at ways to spread innovation to advance hemp growing and production in Sicily.
“Hemp of Sicily,” an operating group comprising extraction specialist Canapar, the University of Catania, Italy’s National Research Council (CNR) and six local farms are heading up Multicanapa, a rural development project co-financed by the Italian state and the EU’s European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
“Multicanapa is the demonstration that to obtain tangible results and develop innovative technologies, the targeted cooperation of different stakeholders is necessary,” said Sergio Martines, CEO of Canapar, the project’s lead company.
Regional supply chains
The initiative will explore innovative solutions to support the development of diversified, integrated regional supply chains “with a view to economic, energy and environmental sustainability,” the groups said in a press release. The project is part of a scenario in which Sicily can become a cutting-edge hemp production center in Europe, said Paolo Guarnaccia, professor at the University of Catania.
“Hemp is a plant of the Sicilian cultural tradition, the product of which was mainly destined for the textile sector,” said Cristina Patanè, Senior Researcher at the CNR. “The diversification of its use in products such as food . . . would allow the introduction of hemp in the agri-food chain, contributing to the relaunch of this crop and representing a possible propulsion tool for small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the agri-food sector in Sicily.”
“The new frontiers of hemp cultivation represented by the production of seeds, oil, flour and functional products has aroused renewed interest from Sicilian farmers,” said Luciano Cosentino, Professor of Agronomy and Herbaceous Plants at the University of Catania. Cosentino said research into hemp cultivation that has been ongoing at the university for the past ten years is being put to use in the service of the Multicanapa project.
Specific objectives of the Multicanapa project are:
- To identify the varieties of industrial hemp that best adapt to Mediterranean climatic conditions;
- To explore harvesting techniques for both modern and traditional hemp varieties;
- To establish best agronomic practices in order to optimize the transformation process and increase the quality of the production;
- Improvement of soil fertility through sustainable cultivation practices, and favoring the production of rotation crops;
- Documenting the economic and environmental sustainability of the supply chain.
“Hemp of Sicily,” the operational group, is in the European Innovation Partnership, which focuses on agricultural productivity and sustainability.
Other participants in the Multicanapa project are the Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and the Institute for BioEconomy (IBE). The six local agricultural companies participating are Agribioconti di Conti M. Sebastiano, Alfio Cavalli farm, Sammartino Giuseppe farm, Grimaldi farm in Nixima Caterina, Iudica F&S and Palma farm and the Agrobiofert agricultural company.