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Varietal innovation and certified quality: two events dedicated to plant nurseries in the Plant Nursery Area at Macfrut

Varietal innovation and certified quality: two events dedicated to plant nurseries in the Plant Nursery Area at Macfrut
  • In the last few years, the Italian plant nursery industry has emerged as a strategic player in the evolution of fruit supply chains


In the last few years, the Italian plant nursery industry has emerged as a strategic player in the evolution of fruit supply chains. Initially established and developed in a regional context, it has subsequently undergone a process of self-organisation, aggregation and expansion, reaching beyond national borders to become a leading international industry. This is confirmed by data from the interprofessional consortium CIVI-Italia, which represents 90% of the professionals in the sector and reports an annual production of 60 million fruit plants, 50 million rootstocks and 330 million seedlings for strawberries and small fruits, with a total production value of over 600 million euros. Exports are also on the rise and account for around 50% of production. It is a key sector, to which Macfrut, the international trade fair for the fruit and vegetable sector (8-10 May 2024), will dedicate a special exhibition, the Plant Nursery Area.

Stefano Lugli, event coordinator for the exhibition, explains: ‘These figures are all the more remarkable when you consider that, on a global scale, Italian excellence in fruit nurseries is demonstrated, on the one hand, by the industry’s ability to offer growers high quality and specific genetic and health requirements, and, on the other hand, by the close synergies established with those who create and promote varietal innovation, seizing the opportunity to be an integral part – and, in many cases, a major player – in international programmes for genetic innovation and, more generally, for fruit supply chain planning.’

These issues will be addressed at two round table discussions held during the trade fair, which will take place at the Rimini Expo Centre. The first one, entitled ‘The Varietal Innovation Industry in Fruit Growing: Patents, Forms of Protection and Commercial Development Models’, organised by the SOI (Italian Society for Horticultural Science) and CIVI-Italia, will take place on Friday 10 May at 10 am. The introductory address by Francesco Mattina, President of the CPVO (Community Plant Variety Office), will address issues related to plant patents, forms of protection and new breeding technologies. The CPVO is responsible for the management, development and promotion of an efficient system of intellectual property rights by providing customer-oriented services to support innovation and the creation of new plant varieties for the benefit of society. The opportunities and challenges associated with the development and organisational models of the supply chain for varieties will be explored through the analysis of two case studies, one focusing on the apple sector and the other on the kiwi sector. These will be presented by Walter Guerra, Director of the CS of Laimburg, and Jürgen Braun, CEO of Kiku Variety Management, for apple trees, and by Raffaele Testolin of the University of Udine and Ugo Palara, President of New Plant, for actinidia. The event will be moderated by Daniele Bassi of the University of Milan.

The second round table discussion, scheduled for Friday 10 May at noon, is entitled ‘QVI – Voluntary Certification of Italian Fruit Nurseries: Promotional Tool or Obstacle to Nursery Production Qualification?’. It is organised by CIVI-Italia and sponsored by the SOI (Italian Society for Horticultural Science), with a focus on QVI-Qualità Vivaistica Italia.

Luigi Catalano, Director of CIVI-Italia, says: ‘QVI-Qualità Vivaistica Italia is the voluntary certification for fruit plant propagating material produced in Italy. It is the most comprehensive set of guarantees that Italian nurserymen can offer to fruit growers, in keeping with what used to be qualified and known as “virus-free”.’

The round table discussion will be moderated by Stefano La Malfa, President of the Fruit Growers’ section of the SOI. At the event, Bruno Caio Faraglia, Head of the National Phytosanitary Service of the MASAF – Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forests, which is responsible for these matters, will give a detailed overview of phytosanitary guarantees and variety conformity as part of the regulations governing the production and marketing of fruit plants. The delays in the inclusion of new genotypes in the QVI certification programmes, for which the procedures for obtaining intellectual property rights are underway at the CPVO, are an obstacle to the process of improving the quality of the production of nursery products, as the DUS (Distinctness, Uniformity and Stability) tests require a considerable amount of time. This is particularly relevant for those species for which breeding programmes are highly active and constantly propose new varieties. These issues will be discussed and debated with Francesco Mattina, President of the CPVO. Davide Vernocchi, President of Apo Conerpo, will present the needs of fruit growers for plant nursery material and the need to guarantee investment in planting new orchards, which will form the backbone of production for the coming decades. President Giandomenico Consalvo will explain the role, actions, objectives and strategies of CIVI-Italia, which has been entrusted by the MASAF with the management of the QVI certification.

Catalano concludes: ‘The aim of this event is to promote and disseminate information on varietal innovation and its guarantees to the Italian fruit-growing sector in order to lay the foundations for the future of the sector and ensure the sustainability and competitiveness of Made in Italy production.’

Info on the Exhibition: Macfrut Nursery Area

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