(AGI) Rimini, Sept 14 - The fruits and vegetables sector is the mainstay of Italy's agri-food system, with a value of 12 billion euros or 25 percent of the agricultural sector's gross saleable production. With these figures in mind, Italy's Minister of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies, Maurizio Martina, cut the ribbon and opened the Rimini Macfrut international trade fair for fruits and vegetables. The event will run until Friday, Sept. 16. More than 1,000 of the sector's businesses from all over the world are taking part, bringing an international presence from five continents, as well as around 1,000 buyers. The fair features 11 exhibition areas spread throughout seven pavilions, covering a surface area of 40,000 square metres. There are 462,000 fruit and vegetable businesses in Italy. Additionally, these businesses farm 1 million hectares of land, which make up a fourth of the agricultural sector's gross saleable production. The fruit and vegetables segment tops the rankings in Italy's agri-food exports at 8 billion euros, or 22 percent of the national total. It is followed by the wine sector at 5.4 billion euros. In 2015, exports of fresh and processed fruit and vegetable products rose by 7.9 percent compared to 2014, and by 60.1 percent compared to 2005. Exports continued to rise in the first half of 2016 as well, both in terms of quantity and value. The result was a trade surplus of around 390 million euros, 43.1 percent higher than in the same period in 2015. Italy exported some 2.1 million tons of produce (a 7.9 percent increase) for a value of 2.25 billion euros (5.2 percent higher). Italy is one of the top producers in the world with 10 million tonnes of fruit per year, and almost 6 million tonnes of vegetables. This amounts to 12 billion euros in revenue, making up 24 percent of the total for Italy's agricultural sector. (AGI). .