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On Thursday, 16 March 2017, in a packed hall at the headquarters of the Civil Defense of Monterusciello, guidelines, content, objectives and methods of implementation of the MAC project were presented by project partners.

MAC, that stands for "Monterusciello Agro City", will bring to the City of Pozzuoli 4 million Euros from the European Union and with the co-financing of local partners of the project, for a total of 5 million Euros. Vincenzo Figliolia, Mayor of Pozzuoli, the Main Urban Authority leading the project, Roberto Gerundo, councillor for urban planning and Alessandra Como, associate professor in architectural and urban composition at the University of Salerno, explained the technical features and prospects of the project, which will last three years and is aimed to give new functions for the derelict or underutilised land owned by the City, implementing an innovative bio-intensive agriculture and correlated services, that will transform Monterusciello, making it a neighbourhood where citizens chose to live giving it a new lease of life and functionality. At the meeting representatives of the project partners were present: Luigi Mastrobuono, general manager of Confagricoltura, Francesco Fiore, director of Confagricoltura Napoli, Cristina d'Alessandro, senior researcher of Fondazione Formit, Salvatore Loffreda, President of Coldiretti Napoli and Campania, Gerardo Gatta, Chief Executive Officer of Agrocultura Srl and the association for social promotion (Aps) L'Iniziativa.

The project will be mainly focused on the improvement of 50 hectares of land identified by the City of Pozzuoli as the main location of the project, spaces now mostly abandoned, where urban farming will be developed using innovative techniques and with the aim to put in place new urban policies addressed to improve the local economy, production and environment. The project will be implemented through the integration of three main actions: implementation of agriculture; improvement of the urban environment; development of the entrepreneurship and of employment.

"All people that will be involved in the project - will be selected through a public notice to be issued by the Urban Authority to ensure full transparency and equal treatment of all local organisations”, Councillor Roberto Gerundo said.

Permanent interventions, therefore, will revolutionise the entire Monterusciello district and all linked activities in terms of impact on employment, but also on visibility. During the event, it was announced that Monterusciello will be one of the locations, among others selected, to host the 2019 Summer Universiade, a further step in the difficult path of redevelopment planned for this neighbourhood.

The value of agriculture

What has been stressed by many interventions is the innovative aspect within the project, the rethinking of municipal and agricultural areas, which are interstitial, or integrated in the urban area, in view of a smart city but with full respect for tradition and the vocation of the territory, as pointed out by Confagricoltura.

Choosing a path of exploitation of a new agriculture is what inspired Coldiretti to be part of the MAC project. "Agriculture - has said Salvatore Loffreda - not only is the production of raw materials, but it takes upon itself the protection of the territories and the cohesion of the community. It therefore has a social widespread and transversal value, that we find in the spirit of Monterusciello Agro City project. The goal of Coldiretti is to accompany a path that consolidates a perspective of production and work on the 50 hectares covered by the project. An extension that allows to program a valuable cultivation plan, capable of generating a local micro production chain. Put into production an outlying terrain of a metropolitan area can become a great added value. The real challenge of the new agriculture – added Salvatore Loffreda - is holding together tradition and innovation, transferring to consumers the added value of the land."

MAC project area.jpg

MAC project area

Training  and scholarship

MAC’s goal is also to help the development of new businesses by supporting the creation of three start-ups, which will be hosted within the Business Incubator Center. The role of the training programs and their related action plan is central as illustrated by Ms Cristina d’Alessandro, representative of Fondazione Formit: "Scholarships for not experienced workers, young persons, and unemployed will be publicly assigned - said Ms d’Alessandro -  80 people will be trained, of which: 25 in the bio-intensive agriculture sector (so called permaculture); 25 in ethical production and rural marketing; 30 in Business Innovation and Agri-Business. A laboratory of permaculture, and a laboratory for ethical production and rural marketing will be realized – she added – together with a Business Incubator Center hosting the start-ups (three of which to be awarded by the project), but also with a guest house for hosting external experts, as well as the assignment of thirteen employment contracts in the agricultural sector, for incentivize the entrepreneurship and self-entrepreneurship".

The Mayor of Pozzuoli, Vincenzo Figliolia, in his final greetings, underlined the importance of what is an extraordinary goal for the City of Pozzuoli, as well as an occasion for economic and social redemption, recalling that 378 European Municipalities, including 104 Italians, competed in the first European call for proposals of the UIA (Urban Innovation Action) Initiative, and only eighteen (18) projects won, of which four in Italy and among them Pozzuoli. At the end of the conference, the Mayor thanked all attending partners, who believed in the project, adding: "This goal does not concern one political party only or the City Council administration, it concerns the entire city of Pozzuoli”.

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