The product: Tradition

The Sila potato is distinguished and appreciated for its excellent culinary qualities, in particular with regard to frying; due to the high dry matter content present in the tubers that have grown on the Sila plateau. In regards to this aspect, an analysis was conducted on the variety Agria, comparing it with samples from other production zones. The results show how the cultivated Sila Plateau potato presents much higher levels of dry matter; therefore it has a better aptitude for frying, as well as a typical flavor more pronounced than the other sources. The Sila potato is perceived as a quality product by the people who surround the Sila plateau (Cosenza - Crotone - Catanzaro – Sibari Plain) that are traditionally catered directly by manufacturers. The Sila potato is particularly popular in the markets of Sicily, Apulia and Campania which, during harvest time, have maintained stable commercial ties since the 50s. The ability of storing and maintaining the organoleptic characteristics make the Sila potato historically used for winter provisions in all these areas. The excellent reputation of the Sila potato is also demonstrated by the enormous success they have had with events and festivals, which bring a myriad of tourists, mainly from the regions mentioned above, who every autumn come to the Plateau eager to taste this delicious product. This fact, from an economic point of view, reveals a fundamental source of income for local operators which, however, involved in the production process itself, guarantee the stable settlement of enterprises and people in the Plateau, making it always lively all year long. The cultural ties of the product to the territory are demonstrated by the festivals and events dedicated to it. Among these are the following exhibitors dedicated to tradition and quality: Camigliatello Silano, where since 1978 the famous Potato of Sila Festival is celebrated in the month of October, together with the Exhibition of the Potato of Sila and Agricultural Machinery. In Parenti, where since 1980 consecutively on the last Sunday of August, is a big event for the Potato of Sila characterized in folklore and cuisine, the cultural link is also emphasized by the wide use of the potato in many recipes of the traditional local gastronomy, such as “pasta, patate e uova” (pasta, potatoes and eggs), “pasta e patate al forno” (baked pasta and potates), “pasta, patate e zucchine” (pasta, potatoes and zucchini), “pasta patate finocchio selvatico e carne” (pasta with wild fennel, potatoes and meat).

The product: History

Potato cultivation in Sila has a long and documented history. A first mention is found in the chronicals of the Kingdom of Naples in 1811. In 1955 the “Centro Silano di Moltiplicazione e Selezione delle Patate da Seme” (Centre of Silane Multiplication and Selection of Seed Potatoes) was founded with the task of promoting the spread of the certified seed. Some studies in the late 80's (1988) certifying that the Sila Plateau was one of the major areas of production of seed potatoes by recording the average amplitude which was larger than in any of the establishments. Potato cultivation has always represented an important economic resource for the Sila Plateau. Over the years farming families have continuously passed on the cultivation of the Sila potato and although the origins of its introduction are ancient, it is only since the last decades that its cultivation has developed a positive economic and productive system.

The product: Production process

The soil and climate of the area where this product is grown is of great importance. From the point of view of particle size, the soil in Sila is for the most part loose and tends to be sandy and fine-grained, therefore very permeable and easily workable; it has a pH value between 5 and 6.5, and is also well equipped with organic substance, and therefore is a natural fertilizer, which in some areas reaches values equal to 10.04% . From the point of view of the soil, according to recent studies (it can be cited by Lulli et al. , 2002) it shows that these characteristics are ideal for the cultivation of the potato. From the climatic point of view, the Sila Plateau has an extremely dry summer and cold winter. Records of temperature show an increase in the period between April and May, making it ideal for sowing. Irrigation is done with spring water and treatments are kept to a minimum due to the summer temperature ranges between day and night, as well as the harsh winter and the snow, which cleanse the environment of countless harmful agents to crops, and parasite attacks are extremely rare, limited and therefore easily controlled. Plant growth is also favored by the daily temperature range and prolonged radiation that allow a slow and steady growth, favorable to the accumulation of dry matter, and the final maturity of the plant allowing the product to be suitable for long conservation. The area is totally detached from sources of air and / or water pollution, as there are no industries in the area. Motor vehicle traffic is very limited because there are no extra urban main roads and highways. The territory rests on a low population density. The exploitation of the land in Sila is extremely low. The potato is the only vegetable product grown on the plateau, with a rotation of at least two years on the same land where the Solanacea plant is usually alternated with grain or pasture. From a “social” perspective, potato cultivation employs about 1,200 families. The only sector of production predicting a turnover of more than 15 million euro gross, but if this data is added to that which is generated and represented by transport, technical performance and accounting, equipment, plant and machinery, processing materials, fuel consumption, etc., the potato cultivation sector reaches a larger figure of about 500 million euro.

The product: Controls

The use of origin registered classification presupposes a control system. The article 37 of EU Regulation number 1151 of 2012 states that it is verified in compliance with the specifications. The certification bodies that deal with this must be accredited in accordance with European standard EN 45011 or the ISO / CEI 65 Guide (or ISO 17065). Each DOP or IGP is controlled by a single control body, indicated by the organizing committee and authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. The authorization is valid for three years, after which a renewal is needed. Of course, at any time the organizing committee or, if present, the association can ask to replace the approved inspection body for justified reasons. The Ministry maintains a list of approved inspection bodies. The DOP and IGP labels must be marked "Certified by the Control Body authorized by the Ministry" to confirm the guarantee by the competent public authorities of the control system. The supervision of inspection bodies is carried out by the Regions and Independent Provinces and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. Inspection bodies provide data yearly regarding the verifications performed on DOP and IGP under their control.

Control over the compliance of the Sila potato product specifications is done by a control structure, as established by Articles 10 and 11 of Reg. (CE) No. 510/2006. This structure is the control body ICEA - Via Nazario Sauro 2, 40121 Bologna - tel. +39 051.272986 - fax +39 051.232011 - icea@icea.info.

The product: Features

The Sila Potato is a product of the mountain, grown on the Calabrian plateau at an altitude of 1,200 meters, in an uncontaminated environment of the Sila National Park. The soil is rich in potassium; irrigation is done with spring water and a micro-climate with high temperature provides it with unique characteristics. It is grown on the Sila plateau of over 1000 meters and is a tuber of the species Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family, produced in the Agria variety (yellow-fleshed), Desirèe (red), Ditta, Majestic, Marabel, Nicola. It is round, round-oval or long oval shaped, with tough skin after rubbing; it has a higher than average percentage of starch and a firm flesh, with a high percentage of dry matter, which guarantees a high quality cuisine and a special indication for frying. Its features make it suitable for conservation which is due to climatic conditions: in fact it is cultivated on land that tends to be sandy and permeable and easy to process and growth is steady and slow, as well as favored by the extremely dry summer and cold winter, with daily temperature ranges and prolonged radiation. Similarly the climatic conditions naturally hinder any pests, which allow for minimized treatments, this is added to the fact that the Sila potato grows in remote locations away from sources of air or water pollution, in the complete absence of industrial plants, with a low population and is irrigated with spring water. The production area of the Sila potato is exlusively in the municipalities of the Sila Plateau. The Sila potato is registered under mountain products and recognized as an EU IGP product.