The crisis in the world oil market which arose during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973 marked an important turning point in Italian history. In fact, until then the country’s economy had evolved according to the canons of growth, that is, through a continuous effort to extend the production base, in order to maintain high employment rates and a good rate of income growth. This policy, which had its roots in a regime of international exchange stability and on the low costs of energy sources and minerals, had also had considerable repercussions on the organization of the territory: industrialization and urbanization had produced immigration from South and from the islands towards the Po area to such an extent as to change the social face of the cities of the North. All ‘ at the beginning of the seventies the two fundamental conditions that fueled the evolution of the economy and the organization of the territory and were based on an extensive fabric of basic industries and on the maintenance of high employment levels disappeared. First, the transition from a fixed exchange rate regime to a variable exchange rate regime, which arose at the very beginning of the decade, produced – just at the time when the oil price increases occurred – considerable effects on the Italian economy: since then, exchange rates have been subject to rather substantial and rapid fluctuations in relation to the real trend of the economy. On the other hand, the economy went through delicate phases also due to acute social tensions up to the mid-1970s. Secondly, the The increase in oil prices has also led to an increase in the international prices of most of the minerals, increasing the typical difficulties of a country which transforms imported raw materials. That turn led the country towards the so-called post-industrial economy.
Agriculture. – Over the course of thirty years, the number of agricultural workers decreased from 8.6 million to approximately 2.3 million: this was the consistency in the first half of the 1980s. Obviously the values are very different from region to region: Lombardy, a very advanced region, employs just 4% of the active population in agriculture, while Basilicata still employs 35%. In general, despite considerable investments in infrastructure and efforts to improve agriculture, there is a significant gap between the northern regions – in particular the Po Valley – whose levels are close to those of internal Europe, and the southern regions, whose levels are close to those of the southern Mediterranean.
The water available in the South and the islands is not yet sufficient – despite the important irrigation works carried out – to support good Mediterranean agriculture. The circumstance is all the more important if we take into account that the entry into the EEC of Spain, Portugal and Greece has opened up a substantial and dangerous competitive front for the Italian production of fruit and vegetables. Furthermore, towards the end of the 1980s so-called ” green ” or ” ecological ” movements arose against the use in agriculture of chemicals considered harmful to health. Faced with these problems, it must be taken into account that, especially in the 1980s, an intense effort was developed to introduce automated and computerized procedures in agriculture,