(Photo: Minister of Production, Alicia Ciciliani at the presentation of the agro-ecological wheat flour in Rosario City)

Buenos Aires, May 23th. This week, the first “agro-ecological” wheat flour was officially presented by officials from the ministry of Production of the Santa Fe Province, representatives from the farm cooperative Fecofe and from the Armstrong cooperative.

“We are trying to development a farming model for the peri-urban areas, i.e. the interphase between the urban and the rural areas, where local authorities are establishing limits to the agrochemicals use”, province secretary of Territorial Development, Mauro Casella told to eFarmNewsAr.

It is necessary to say that in the last years the farming is living a growing tension with urban population around the agrochemicals spraying in the borders of the towns. Local NGO’s claimed to establish restrictions the sprayings, that were fixed at 500, 1.000 meters or more from the borders of the urban area.

This implies that conventional farming turned impracticable in these areas. “Despite from the Ministry we are working with the implementation of Good Farming Practices, we also were thinking how implement alternative models that conciliates urban claims with a safety and environmental friendly food production”, Casella explains.

One of this ways that they found was the wheat production without the use of agrochemicals and fertilizers in these restricted areas. This production is known locally as “agro-ecological”, i.e. a production linked with the organic protocols but without its certification.

The Federated Cooperatives Federation (Fecofe) was the counterpart of the Santa Fe Production Ministry to run this initiative through its cooperatives and farmers. One of them, the Armstrong Cooperative has a wheat miller, that received the wheat and produce “agro-ecological” flour this year.

“We received 50 tons of agro-ecological wheat, to produce a flour that surprised us due to the high quality, with a 30% gluten contain. We sold these 900 bags of wheat to bakeries in the zone, which recognizes the excellent bakery aptitude of the flour. In fact, currently we are receiving many orders from others bakeries in the zone”, the chairman of the cooperative, Silvio Antinori explained to eFarmNewsAr.com.

Both sources, Casella and Antinori agreed that farmers were satisfied with this experience. “The wheat yielded like an average wheat in the zone, but they have a lower cost due to they didn’t use inputs. Although the agro-ecological farming demanded more attention that conventional one, the economic margin improved”, they affirm.

The province Government throughout the Production Ministry is branding the quality of the flour as “agro-ecological” and providing the brand “De mi Tierra Santa Fe”.

“We are trying to implement a fair trade scheme for the farmers and consumers. For example, not only the miller pays the farmers the market price for their wheat, but it shares them a percentage of the added value reached for selling a niche product”, Casella says. “As everybody knows, this kind of product has a plus in the price, but we are trying that this plus don’t be excessive”, Antinori adds.