At a press conference on Tuesday 27th March 2012 the greek Minister of Agriculture, Kostas Scandalides, presented the results of an opinion poll concerning “Τhe return to rural areas and agricultural production“. The research was conducted by the Greek Agricultural Organisation – Demeter for the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food. The results of this survey once again highlight the existing tendency of the Greeks stricken by the crisis to leave the city and seek a better life in the country side (see my previous blog).
More specifically, the poll, conducted in Athens and Thessaloniki, found that 68,2% of Greeks have already considered returning to rural areas – this is equivalent to 1.5 million people!! 19,3% have already started the process of moving. Half of those wishing to return to the countryside (47,6%) choose farm production as their first vocation. This data reconfirm other surveys conducted in previous years by the Hellenic Statistical Service (2010) and PASEGES, the farmers cooperative association (2011).
“I believe that it is very important that during this era in greek society there has been a deep cut, a great change. It is a big change in life standards, being at the epicenter of the crisis we cannot understand its whole dimensions” stated Kostas Skandalides. He then added “Some years ago, the average greek had consumer standards and a career with no free time as a vision. That only brought alienation. Today, people are rejecting this lifestyle, and changing their cultural and living standards. They seek a better quality of life, better human relationships in smaller societies, security and a return to their roots.”
It is worth noting that the vast majority of people stating that would like to return to the countryside, or already have started the process, have a high educational level (almost 70%). In addition, 60% are between 25 and 39 years old. This is in stark contrast with the previous profile of the ageing Greek farming population, 55% of which had not finished high school.
According to the survey, 70,3% would be willing to leave for the same or lower income, in order to achieve a better quality of life with a relaxed rhythm, less cost of life and true human relationships.
The majority would be interested in cultivating traditional products (olive trees, olive oil, organic products) as well as new innovative alternative cultivations.
While the political and financial environment in Greece is very unsteady with elections coming this May, whoever will be in the new government, needs to seriously consider and support this positive wave seeking to build a better life and help the reconstruction of the rural areas of Greece: a forgotten or ignored asset for many years. This is why I believe that in even in the worst situation there is always a blessing in disguise. We need to see this crisis as an opportunity for a positive change.
Find an article in English here