Italy's deputy foreign minister Emanuela Del Re on Wednesday opened the MACFRUT 2019 international fruit and vegetable fair, which this year is dedicated to Africa and is being held in the eastern coastal resort of Rimini, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
A total 200 African economic delegations from 15 different countries are exhibiting at the fair, according to the statement.
In her speech, Del Re underlined the growing attention Italy is paying to to Africa, citing visits she recently made to the continent and those of premier Giuseppe Conte to the Horn of Africa and the Sahel.
"In order to fully grasp the potential offered by Africa an integrated approach is needed, which involves the entire production cycle in that supply chain logic that is one of our hallmarks," Del Re said.
"I am thinking in particular of the training of skilled labour, the supply of cutting-edge technologies for the transformation of production, the strengthening of the water network, and the logistics needed to effectively market products - for internal consumption and for export ".
Italy's integrated, highly technological and sustainable agri-food model can be replicated in the African continent, not only in the fruit and vegetable sector but also in the livestock and dairy sectors, she said.
Del Re also recalled that the Italian government's overseas aid department is keeping up its traditional commitment to food safety and agricultural development. It is also helping to consolidate Italy's leadership in promoting inclusive, modern and sustainable agriculture, for the benefit of the many populations that still live in absolute poverty, mainly in rural areas, she noted.
Africa was also the focus of the "Italy-Africa: a renewed partnership for horticultural and agro-industrial development" roundtable Del Re opened later on Wednesday. African agricultural deputy ministers took part in the event, which follows on from the Italy-Africa Ministerial Conference held at Italy's foreign ministry last October.