Italian co-ops work together in earthquake aftermath
26 Jun 2012
Co-operatives in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna were devastated during the earthquake and aftershocks that hit the city on 20 May.
The region, which is well known for its food, has over 8,000 co-operatives, and almost 500 make the famous Parmigiano Reggiano Parmesan cheese.
Over 330,000 wheels of the cheese were damaged during the quake, as they fell off the warehouse shelves while they were undergoing the two-year-long seasoning process, the damage makes up around ten per cent of the production.
Luciano Dotti, President of the San Possidonio Producers Co-operative, was quoted by local media as saying: "I had 43,000 wheels of Parmesan. Everything had collapsed and about 50 per cent of it has been ruined."
A scheme has been set up to allow farmers to sell their cheese straight away to limit economic loss with the help of many co-operatives including the supermarket Coop Italia.
The President of the Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium, Giuseppe Alai explained: “Large-scale solidarity operations have been started by large retailers, the one agreed with Coop Italia was the first one to start on June 11.
“Specifically, for each wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano sold at the current prices, large retailers will give a contribution (1 Euro/kg) to the dairies hit by the earthquake; buying Parmigiano-Reggiano is, therefore, the simplest way to ensure immediate help.”
Local co-operatives have also set up a scheme to help sell the cheese as quickly as possible at reasonable prices with a portion of the proceeds going towards “Progetto Cheese” (Project Cheese) to help organise days out and trips for children living in the area; ADRA Italia and Reach Italia have joined this project.
Over 6,000 volunteers helped the dairies to empty their stores from around the area. The total loss to the sector is looking to be around €80 million, with a huge €200 million loss to the whole agricultural sector.
The Co-operative Emilia Earthquake Fund has also been put in place by several co-operatives including: Agci, Confcooperative, Legacoop and the unions CGIL, CISL, UIL.
Local co-operatives are encouraging people to donate the equivalent of an hour’s wage to the fund. More information on donating can be found here.