Located in the southeast of Sicily, Natura Iblea-Paniere Bio is one of Europe’s major producers in the organic farming sector. The company, along with its team composed of mostly non-EU personnel, is constantly seeking new ways to find a balance between economic development and employee wellbeing.
During the pandemic, the farm continued to operate, albeit at a reduced rate due to logistical disruptions and the lack of manpower, caused both by preventive quarantine and a chronic shortage of workers willing to work in the agricultural sector. To prevent contagions from putting the entire company at risk, work teams were reduced in terms of number of members, leading to two distinct teams allocated for each work area.
“In mid-May 2021 we realized that about 60% of employees were not yet vaccinated because many had no idea how to book a vaccine appointment. To address this, we set up a special office to assist employees and their families with booking their jabs: we have already registered and vaccinated about 60 employees and at least 60 other family members“, states Roberto Giadone, President of Natura Iblea-Paniere Bio.
The company has recently opened its doors to many women from other sectors who, due to Covid-19, had become unemployed. Valeria, a former beautician and now a labourer who, together with her partner, has been working in the fields since April 2020 is one such example. The farm is also considering opening a company nursery, to help families with balancing their work and private lives.
Natura Iblea-Paniere Bio has always been attentive to young people and open to the latest innovations: an emblematic example is its online sales website PaniereBio.com. What was once just a bet is now an autonomous company, with a turnover of about one million euros, a 31-year-old director and a staff with an average age of 28. Giadone underscored how the company is a case in point of how young people are critical to bringing new life and ideas to the table and must be allowed to do so. He explained further “We like to work towards a better future, so we offer scholarships to employees’ children. Moreover, we abhor exploitation: that’s why we have obtained the GlobalGrasp certification and collaborate with the NOCAP Association“.
“Our positive economic and production results stem from our top-notch agronomic skills and the fertile land of Sicily; but it takes also management and workers mutually respecting and helping one another. The management will not be able to direct effectively if they don’t, every now and then, go down to the fields and plough them themselves, hands-on“, Roberto Giadone concluded.