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Above: Gianni (center) with Coldiretti colleagues at a rally protesting counterfeit Italian food products.

This week, Gianni Cantele stepped down as president of Coldiretti Puglia, the regional office of the Italian confederation of food growers.

“Today was last day as president of Coldiretti Puglia,” wrote Gianni on his Facebook. “It’s been nearly six years and an extraordinary experience that gave me the chance to have a 360° look at our region’s agriculture. I’ve learned about our region’s excellence and our still untapped potential. And I’ve even come to understand some of our contradictions, issues we need to work to solve with earnestness and honesty. I also had the privilege of being able to count on the support of our many Coldiretti partners. And thanks to their efforts, we ‘occupied’ piazzas and roads in Puglia with our rallies and events. Our focus has been the promotion and safeguarding of our identity and the value of our products. And we’ve tried to ‘contaminate’ Pugliese society with equity and respect for our land.”

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with some big-hearted people. And they are owed much more than this quick thanks. I’m not leaving the team, though. I’ll be serving as president of the Lecce Federation as we face the dramatic situation caused by Xylella fastidiosa. It’s going to be an equally challenging task but I owe it to my land.”