Eni and BF have signed a collaboration agreement to evaluate the development of crops for energy use in Italy, recovering degraded, abandoned or polluted land, without competing with the food chain.
“Today we are strengthening our collaboration with BF on a great potential project for the country as it aims to regenerate marginal areas, such as contaminated or degraded ones, and at the same time promotes rural development and integration with the energy industry which supports decarbonisation of transport,” says Claudio Descalzi, Chief Executive Officer of Eni.
“The alliance between Eni and BF is consolidated with Progetto Italia which demonstrates the essential role of agriculture in the diversification of energy sources. In addition to the research and development activities of the JV in our company in Sardinia, we are starting today to a new initiative which involves the study and subsequent production of the first 2,000 national hectares of land used for the cultivation of oilseeds. The project will enhance abandoned areas of the country, recovering and inserting them in a virtuous circuit which at the same time will give Italian agricultural entrepreneurs new diversification opportunities for their activities,” says Federico Vecchioni, CEO of BF Spa.
“Coldiretti strongly supports this initiative which will help us bring abandoned land back to production in a circular economy project. Agriculture wants to play a central role in the ecological transition path and guarantee new energy sources for all citizens, once again reiterating the social value of our work,” says the president of Coldiretti Ettore Prandini while adding that “with Eni, BF and Consorzi Agrari d’Italia (CAI) we will also work to disseminate digital technologies and precision agriculture that will help the project to be even more sustainable.”
The agreement has a first study-phase, to evaluate the sustainability and competitiveness of an agro-industrial chain to be jointly developed aiming at recovering the marginal areas identified in the Country through the development of sustainable agronomic practices. In early 2023 a pilot phase will be launched, by cultivating seeds such as safflower and brassica from which to extract the vegetable oil to be sent to Eni’s biorefineries, for subsequent transformation into biofuels.
The agricultural productions will respond to the ISCC voluntary certification scheme (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) to guarantee the sustainability and traceability requirements of the products in accordance with the relevant European legislation.
The cultivation of the seeds can take place in farms directly owned by BF, as well as in consortia, cooperatives and professional organisations located on the territory that will be able to collaborate with BF and Eni. Furthermore, farmers will be able to count on the support of the partners to introduce innovative practices, from agriculture of precision to carbon farming to reduce emissions and waste in the work phases. The aim is to create a new business model which, on one hand guarantees access to land for the farmers by creating economic opportunities and, on the other hand, introduces cutting-edge techniques and processes, with the aim of contributing to reduce CO2 emissions in the agriculture and transport sectors.
Thus consolidates the collaboration between Eni and BF, partners in the Agri-Energy joint venture set up in January 2021 to develop improved seeds for bio-refining. Agri-Energy research projects, such as the one in the “open-air laboratories” of Arborea, in Sardinia, started in early 2022 to experiment with sustainable crops for energy production over an area of 15 hectares. The JV also promotes staff training initiatives and support for international agronomic projects.