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Women farmers in Italy diversify to survive

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Summary of story from The New York Times, January 3, 2012

Women farmers in Italy are making the best of a time when small farms in the country are struggling.

One-third of Italy’s farmers are women, and they in particular have been diversifying their business strategies to sectors such as agricultural tourism, farmers’ markets, organic farming and direct sales.

Although other European countries have significant numbers of female farmers, the female farm workforce in Italy is significantly higher at 1.3 million, compared to France and Germany, each of which have less than 340,000.

Still, women entrepreneurs in Italy face under-representation. Silvia Bosco, who works in women’s issues for a farmers’ confederation, said the government doesn’t support women in business. Politics is still a male-dominated sphere.

Veronica Navarra, president of a government-run agricultural organization for women, said that some institutional and grass-root networks have helped women enter the agricultural sector.

“The world of agriculture in Italy used to be very male-oriented, but now there’s been a reversal,” she said.

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