Mafia banished by fair trade
Libera Terra is Italian for ‘Liberated Land’ (info in Dutch), which you could also read as ‘Land Liberated from the Mafia’. This is the brand name under which nine agricultural cooperatives from Sicily, Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Lazio sell their artisanal, fair-trade pasta, olive oil, wine and other Mediterranean products.
The cooperatives grow their raw materials on land previously occupied by the Mafia – until it was confiscated by the government. They’re availing of their rich culinary tradition in the fight against both unemployment and organised crime. Jobs are urgently needed in a country marred by towering unemployment and deep-seated corruption.
From activism to fair-trade pasta
For years, everyday life in Sicily was overshadowed by the Mafia, and to some extent it still is. This has hindered the development of democratic political structures. Even a healthy economic and social fabric wouldn’t stand a chance.
The Libera network was formed in 1995 in a bid to protest and combat this situation. As part of this network, many organisations, schools and local activist groups worked together to establish a culture of legal certainty. One specific objective was to reclaim Mafia property confiscated by the government.
And this is precisely what the Libera Terra project has been doing since 2001. In 2002 it launched the first organic pasta made from grain grown on former Mafia land. Today the project consists of nine cooperatives from across Italy and the door is open to more cooperatives that live up to Libera Terra’s social, ethical and technical (quality) standards.
An expert in many markets
- The cooperatives of Libera Terra work 975 hectares of land in total. They grow grains, olives, grapes, legumes and vegetables.
- A least one third of the farms’ employees is accounted for by people who usually have difficulty accessing the job market.
- Libera Terra is involved in the production chain from the beginning (crop planning) to the processing and packaging of the final products. Because it closely monitors the whole process itself, it is able to ensure that the project remains economically viable.
- The Libera Terra products are distributed in Italy by the local stores of CTM/Altromercato and the Coop group of cooperative supermarkets.
- In addition to its organic agricultural activities, Libera Terra has also set its sights on other sources of revenue, such as agritourism.
Libera Terra & Oxfam
- Libera Terra reconciles socio-economic development with a successful business model without losing sight of its core values and intentions. The mission of Libera Terra and its way of working align closely with the vision of Oxfam-Wereldwinkels with regard to supporting small-scale independent producers (info in Dutch) and helping them to grow.
- A selection of Libera Terra products has been available at your local Oxfam-Wereldwinkel since 2018. These are among the first examples of how Oxfam-Wereldwinkels now closely supports courageous and noble initiatives.
- Oxfam-Wereldwinkels also assists Libera Terra in their search for new markets for distribution and in the development of commercially viable products.