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Ecological Engineering
Vol. 83, 2015, Pages: 227–232

Choice between alternative investments in agriculture: The role of organic farming to avoid the abandonment of rural areas

Riccardo Testa, Mario FoderÓ, Anna Maria Di Trapani, Salvatore Tudisca, Filippo Sgroi

Department of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences, University of Palermo, Viale delle Scienze, Edificio 4, 90128 Palermo, Italy.


Sicily has a long tradition in citrus fruit cultivation that, with vineyard and olive tree, represents the main Mediterranean tree crops. Since many Sicilian farmers in recent years have decided to abandon conventional lemon orchards, in this paper we have evaluated the financial sustainability of organic lemon production by comparing it with the conventional one.

Financial analysis has been carried out in a case study on the northwestern coast of Sicily, considering a 50-year economic life of an orchard. The results, per hectare of area, showed a clear advantage of organic lemon orchard. This was due to fewer labor requirements and to greater market appreciation for organic products that better ensured a premium price. Moreover, financial indicators of organic lemon orchards and the deployment of environmental-friendly inputs in the production process render these farms competitive and eco-friendly.

Keywords: Cost-benefit analysis; Farming operations; Lemon; Organic farming.

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