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How Important Is Agriculture To The Italian Economy?

How Important Is Agriculture To The Italian Economy?

Agriculture is an essential aspect of the economy of many countries around the world. It can be a useful resource to provide jobs, a food source, and a national export. 

Agriculture can be particularly important to countries that don’t have the resources or ability to produce other items for exportation. 

Italy is a country that is known worldwide for some of the agriculture that it produces, but how important is agriculture to the Italian economy?

What Is The Role Of Agriculture In Italy?

Agriculture is one of Italy’s most important economic sectors. Agriculture in Italy accounts for around 2.1% of the country’s GDP. The type of crops that are produced change depending on where you are looking in the country.  

In the northern part of Italy, the main crops that are grown include grains and soybeans. Meat and dairy products are also produced in the Northern part of the country. In the Southern part of the country, you will find fruits, olives, vegetables, wine, and durum wheat.  

All of the products that are created through the agricultural sector help to bring profit into the country and provide stable jobs for plenty of people in the country.  

What Is The Role Of Agriculture In The Economic Sector?

As mentioned above, in Italy, agriculture is one of the most important economic sectors.  It represents the third biggest contributor to the country’s GDP. 

The majority of the GDP growth that comes from agriculture is in the form of employment. There are a significant number of jobs that are available in the agriculture sector in Italy. 

Agriculture contributes to domestic economic growth and the country’s exports. 

How Important Is Agriculture To The Italian Economy?

What Kind Of Agriculture Does Italy Have?

The agricultural industry in Italy has been formed by decades of struggle and strife.  Throughout the years, there have been many different types of agriculture in the country. 

The types of products that are created from agriculture in Italy are dictated largely by the terrain that is found in different parts of the country.  

The most fertile soil in the country can be found in the Po Valley area (see more about the richest soil in Italy here). The soil is so fertile here because of an ideal distribution of rainfall in the area. Most of the agricultural land in Italy is only viable for agriculture as a result of extensive modification to the land. 

Modifications that make the land available for agriculture include terracing, irrigation, and in-depth soil management.  

Agriculture in Italy can be divided into four categories: field crops, tree crops, pasture, and forestry. The type of agriculture that can be undertaken in different areas is entirely dependent on the type of land that is available.

Below are the four types of agriculture that contribute to the Italian economy. 

Field Crops

One of the main field crops that is grown in Italy is wheat. In the early to mid-1900s, the country tried to become entirely self-sufficient in regard to wheat cultivation. At the height of wheat cultivation, there were 12 million acres of agricultural land dedicated to wheat.  

Since then, the amount of land dedicated to cultivating wheat crops has been reduced to around 5 million acres. This is partly thanks to the improvements in agricultural science that have allowed other crops to be cultivated in the country.  

Hard wheat is grown in southern regions of the country.  This type of wheat is commonly used to make pasta and contributes significantly to the country’s economy. Soft wheat is grown in the northern regions. This type of wheat is used for making biscuits, bread, and pizza crust.  

The crops grown in the northern region of the country can often outnumber the crops grown in the south by around three times. This is largely due to the more suitable terrain and improved techniques. 

Italy is also one of the major exporters of rice. This crop is mainly grown on the plain in Po Valley. Maize is also grown in this area and used within the country and exported to other countries. 

Tomato field crops are also a significant contributor to the domestic and export markets of the country. Cultivation of this crop has quadrupled in recent years thanks to improved production methods.  

Tree Crops

Two of Italy’s most lucrative exports come from tree crops.  Both olives and grapes are some of the biggest contributors to the Italian economy.  

The arid conditions in Sicily, Calabria, and Puglia are perfectly suited to the growing of Olive trees. In fact, the specific conditions that this part of the country offers are part of the reason why Italian olives are so in demand around the world. 

The oil content of the olives is enhanced by the long and dry summers that are common in this area of the country.  

However, unfortunately for the Italian economy, the output of olives is often erratic. This is because of the plant’s susceptibility to late frosts. Despite the fact that Italy is the world’s largest exporter of olives, it creates an unstable and unpredictable boost to the economy.  

Wine is a product that is made in all regions of the country and is one of the largest contributors to the country’s economy. 

However, there is more competition now than before thanks to the increasing popularity of Eastern European wines which are sold at significantly cheaper prices.  

Italy is also known for its citrus fruit production. Other fruit products such as apricots and nectarines, as well as nuts such as hazelnuts and almonds, contribute to the export and domestic economy.  


Pasture agriculture in Italy contributes significantly less to the Italian economy than other forms of agriculture in the country. Bovine, swine, and aviculturist farms are found in the northern regions of the country. Ovine farms are more commonly found in the southern regions.  

Pasture agriculture is able to entirely satisfy the domestic demand for butter products. Cheeses such as parmesan and gorgonzola are produced for export. This provides a boost for the economy within the country. It is popular for pasture farms to raise buffalo with a view to making mozzarella cheese.  

The meat market within Italy has been significantly threatened by competition from other countries within the EU. This is mostly because of the high costs associated with raising meat in Italy due to the need for extensive irrigation of land. 


This is the smallest aspect of agriculture in terms of the effect on the country’s economy. The majority of forests in Italy are made up of broad-leaf trees, with only around one-fifth of the forests being made up of conifer trees.

Chestnut trees are common in the northern Apennines.  Large parts of Italy are completely devoid of forests. 

Is Agriculture The Main Industry In Italy?

Despite the many popular domestic and exported items that agriculture produces in Italy, it is not the main nor the biggest industry in Italy. The largest industry in Italy is services and tourism.  

Italy is considered to be a country that depends on tourism and the service industry to support its economy. However, agriculture plays an important role in supporting that industry. 

Not only does agriculture provide resources for the service industry, but exports can support the economy during off-seasons. 

Final Thoughts

Agriculture plays an important role in the support of the Italian economy. Although it isn’t the main industry in the country, it is crucial to keeping the economy stable throughout the year.

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