Raddusa: the granary of Sicily

If you happen travel to Sicily in the first days of September, to the edge of the Plain of Catania where it borders the province of Enna, and find yourself visiting the town of Raddusa, whose name derives from the ancient Greek word Rabdusa, meaning “land of abundant vegetation”, don’t be surprised by what you see.

Don’t be surprised to see the town square literally carpeted by a thick layer of freshly harvested ears of wheat, almost half a metre deep. Don’t be surprised to see, all around you, people of all ages partying, applauding or dancing to traditional songs. Don’t be surprised if at a certain point, those people step aside to let a pair of horses enter the square and trample over the grain, before turning circles to the sound of music, urged on by their handlers and the audience. Don’t be surprised, because you’ve come to Raddusa in the middle of the Festa del Grano (Grain Festival), where the ancient “Pisatura” threshing ritual is re-enacted. The ritual is particularly revered by the town’s inhabitants and has very ancient roots, just like the cultivation of wheat in the area. Here barley and wheat were first grown in the era of the Sicels and Sicans (ancient inhabitants of Sicily). The Greeks and Carthaginians continued this tradition, but it was the Romans who started growing the crops on an intensive scale. They conquered Sicily in around 240 BC and introduced large latifundia (landed estates specialising in agriculture), turning the area and the whole island into “the Granary of Rome”, as Roman statesman Cato put it. That description was no exaggeration: at the time, Rome imported 300,000 tonnes of wheat every year, most of it from Sicily. Such a vast agricultural output transformed the Sicilian landscape, causing the disappearance of the dense woodland that had previously covered much of the island.

Today, many centuries later, methods of cultivation, harvesting, storage and transport have changed, but if you happen to pass by one of the collection centres you may well see the fruit of the farmers’ toil and sweat glistening in the sun in large heaps, like golden yellow loaves of bread. For this reason, the area of​Raddusa is still called “the granary of Sicily”. One such collection facility is the AGRARIAN CENTRE of Raddusa, where thousands of tonnes of locally grown wheat are brought during the harvest period.

To move the grain from the squares to the depots (and from there onto the trucks that will transport it not just to Rome, but all over the world), the AGRARIAN CENTRE of Raddusa has equipped itself with an Agri Plus 40.7 Evo2, purchased from our dealer DLF in Caltanissetta. The transfer operation continues throughout the night, taking advantage of the cooler hours, until all the wheat is piled high in the depots of the Agrarian Centre. Thanks to its bucket for light materials and its 81 kW power output, the Agri Plus can easily handle large quantities of cereal with every load, drastically speeding up the process. Over the following days, the Agri Plus will perform the procedure in reverse, loading the grain onto trucks that will take the produce to its destination.