Greek Producers

Returning to agricultural production: a solution to the crisis, or a conscious action with prospects?

In this grim climate of greek reality, where disappointment and panic prevail, two hopeful trends seem to dawn. The first relates to the demand for better quality of life in all social groups, and the second to the increasing number of young people returning to agriculture. These two trends combined, give rise to a growth potential, that correctly operated can bring not just financial, but mainly social benefits. What is the right way for this return to primary production to be realized? The answer does not seem to be restricted to technical issues, but mainly to the change of our society’s attitude.

We are currently going through a period with endless discussions about the way out of the financial crisis that devastates our country. Under these conditions of depression and panic, we are searching for investments that will pour cash into the dormant market, will create new jobs and revive the “engine of the greek economy”. So, we constantly receive information and opinions about the development and exploitation of mineral resources, or our “heavy industry” the way tourism is known as, or even investment possibilities in other areas that in theory are supposed to get us out of the crisis [eg. 1,2]. Panic is a bad councilor however. It can lead us to short-term beneficial and long-term harmful directions. We have experienced this in the past, and we can all see the results today: subsidies that destroyed agriculture [3], “packages” creating enterprises that went bankrupt in a few years, mass touristic development destroying the environment and currently rotting away. The target should be growth through increased production, but even this should be combined with quality improvement. And this improvement, does not only concern the produced products, but also the quality of the production process itself, and even the quality of life of the social groups involved in the production process.

The term “quality of life” made its appearance quite recently in Greece, as a result of specific European Union policies, wherever this term is incorporated in growth policies [4]. Although a single commonly accepted definition does not exist, quality of life reflects financial prosperity, as well as other values such as education, health and well being. The relation of the quality of life of people with the environment in which they live and work is now a common assumption [5]. The environment offers invaluable goods and even more invaluable services: mental health, a way out of every day routine, fresh air, water, food and many more. The relation of the quality of life with the environment for urban population is to a large degree dependent on the quality of food that finds its way on his table on a daily basis [6]. Demand for quality here, with all the above mentioned parameters is on the rise. Today’s average urban resident is not only after improved financial indices. He demands to live a nicer life with more quality in the traditional sense.
Amid the crisis, and the mass psychology that it creates, more than a few choose to try their luck in agriculture. We all hear of people who decided to develop their family’s farming land, which after the devolution of agricultural production and the desertion of the province, remained abandoned. In many cases this is combined with relocation to a provincial town or village [7]. This trend is still small, but it is definitely rising. Given the overwhelming unemployment and the limited professional alternatives for a large part of society, occupation with agriculture seems to be a salutary solution.

It is a fact, that there will be multiple benefits to the country as well as to all involved social groups by a real growth in the agricultural sector. Besides the increased income of a part of the population, or the improvement of various financial indices and commercial balance of payments, the benefits will be mainly social. A stronger agricultural sector will bring back to our country its lost backbone: the province. An increased agricultural income can sustain more, secondary financial activities in the province. It could even finally reverse the urbanism trend of past decades. A social and financial improvement of the province will upgrade the quality of life of residents of provincial towns as well as larger urban cities.
How optimistic can we be? We want to hope to a reversal of the climate that can reinstate our income and most importantly improve the quality of our life. Can the greek state support such a prospect? Unfortunately not [7]. Trapped in tactics and structures of past decades, state administration cannot promote and provide the framework for a healthy and long term growth in agricultural economy. The state in our country does not know how to plan long term. It just reacts to developments retroactively, and always deficiently. For this to change, more than personnel replacement or different circumstances. It is us, who have to change our attitude: society that finally leads the direction the state takes.
The farmer / producer has to forget about subsidies, and learn to support his production on the commercial value of his produce. To form flexible and functional groups of producers, free from political part influence, Να σχηματίσει ευέλικτες και λειτουργικές ομάδες παραγωγών, απαλλαγμένες από κομματισμούς και παθογένειες του παρελθόντος. Να σχεδιάσει την παραγωγή με βάση τη ζήτηση και να συμπεριλάβει τη διάθεση και το marketing σε μια συνολική καθετοποιημένη διαδικασία.

The consumer must develop a conscious tendency to turn to value for money, good quality products. To support production and producers by stimulating demand. And this must take place within a climate of professionalism, long term planning and healthy financial conditions.

The technical details for this dawning, new agricultural development to succeed, are already under discussion [8]. Science has to provide the framework for production and more importantly for its planning. It is very important not to lose one more growth opportunity. The main precondition is the active involvement of society to claim a life of more quality.




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