Sustainability: a necessary clarification

 About one month ago Monini - one of the most famous italian olive oil producers all over the world, presented its new Sustainability Plan 2020-2030 (ANSA 26/05/2020).

"Bosco Monini" is one of the planned ventures: 1'000 hectares for 1'000'000 new plants, for over 50'000 tons of CO2 seized. ANSA article  says it's going to be a "super-intensive", "integrated" and "organic" farming, "working towards the reduction of water and investing in production and irrigation". These words create great expectations and seem to pledge a serious commitment to heal the World.

Nevertheless this notice calls into doubt, and it compels us to talk about sustainability.

We start suggesting to read an interesting article from TEATRO NATURALE 05/06/2020: it blames the company for this project, 'cause it has only a speculative target to the detritment of ecosystem and cultural heritage of olive farming. Super-intensive agriculture causes serious disasters such as soil fertility depletion, groundwater pollution, landscape devastation, unfair competition and loss of identity. Similar experiences abroad (for example in Spain: OLIVE PRESS 29/04/2017) seem to confirm this prospect. Reduction of CO2 emissions is definitely a shared need, but any therapy for this aim can't have fatal conseguences. All the people, from the farmer to the consumer, should remember one of the most famous definitions of sustainable develpoment: it is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (BRUNDTLAND REPORT, UN 1987). Therefore is it possible to define super-intensive agriculture "sustainable"?

Well, super-intensive system is certainly a good choice for economical sustainability. But agriculture deals with plants, and plants need good relationship with ground, air, water, animals and other plants: all these connections are necessary. Moreover super-intensive olive crop need only few artificially selected cultivars: most of them come from private researches and they're property of private companies (TEATRO NATURALE 30/11/2018) and others do not belong to the italian territory, So biodiversity and proper competitiveness are sacrificed in the name of profit.

In the italian agricultural contest super-intensive and monoculture aren't widespread yet, but it's a tempting option. Someone says this is the only way to feed the whole world, but secondary effects are much more than benefits (BOSCO DI OGIGIA 11/04/2017).

Reading the Bill Mollison's Permaculture designer's manual it's easy to find a different approach to this argument, 'cause "Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally  productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stabilty, and resilience of natural ecosystems" (Bill Mollison, Permaculture designer's manual 1988). Studying the world with permaculture eyes means to observe Nature and let the relations among all the elements in an environment, human beings included, stand out. Design and etichal basic in Permaculture come from Nature observation, they're general rules but they're well-fed with experience, science and conscience: these instruments help the permacultur designer in creating its personal solutions to specific needs. 

While you're reading the manual we continue taking care of our olive trees: no layout, twisted trunks... but in spite of this the're still there!

'suoer intensive'