Over the last few days, the Greek Minister of Agriculture, Athanasios Tsautaris has given several interviews on the future of Greek agriculture. Responding to the impact of the economic crisis in Greece, he has insisted that the priority of the Ministry is quality agriculture.
More specifically the Greek Agriculture Minister stressed that “Our priority is to make a big shift towards the so-called “quality agriculture.” To produce excellent products such as organic, and those marked with Designation of Origin or Protected Geographical Indication. The whole world is asking for such products, in Europe and of course the Greek consumers. These products fit into our production process…we are doing everything we can to support it.”
Previous articles on ARC have examined the current trend of Greeks returning to the countryside and agriculture. It seems that in the last few months, 7% of people who were previously working in agriculture have returned to farms. This is equal to the percentage who had left agriculture since 2004.
According to data from the Ministry, while they were expecting 4-5,000 applications for organic farming, they received more than 10,000 applications which will be supported with € 191 million.
The Minister also is willing to support the cultivation of local protein plants for animal feed that will reinforce the self-sufficiency of the country, reduce import costs and increase farmers’ income. This is something that NGOs such as Greenpeace are demanding from the Greek government.
In fact, what the current agriculture Ministry is promoting has been a demand for many actors in Greek agriculture for years. It is true that Greece, which is blessed with fertile soil, a benign climate, a beautiful geographical landscapes and strong culinary tradition, has abandoned and neglected its rural areas in recent years. However, due to the current circumstances, Greek society has really started to rediscover its qualities and strengths in order to rebuild a new base for future generations. I hope that Mr Tsautaris will walk the talk and that quality agriculture in Greece really we be a way to get out from the Greek crisis.