`Farmers in Greece Call for Subsidies Amid Low Yields - Olive Oil Times

Farmers in Greece Call for Subsidies Amid Low Yields

By Costas Vasilopoulos
Dec. 14, 2023 18:34 UTC

In Greece, olive grow­ers and oil pro­duc­ers gath­ered out­side regional gov­ern­ment build­ings nation­wide, seek­ing finan­cial aid to cope with this year’s extremely poor olive har­vest.

The demon­stra­tors demanded that all olive grow­ers in the coun­try receive €200 per stremma (a tra­di­tional Greek unit of mea­sure­ment equiv­a­lent to 0.1 hectares) of olive trees to strengthen their income.

We can’t make ends meet since we pro­duced so lit­tle olive oil.- Dionysios Gonis, mem­ber, agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tion of Argolida

They also called for mea­sures to reduce pro­duc­tion costs and add olives to the crops eli­gi­ble for com­pen­sa­tion by ELGA (the Greek Organization of Agricultural Insurance) after nat­ural dis­as­ters.

The lack of fruition in our area ranges from 80 to 100 per­cent, while olive trees do not qual­ify for any com­pen­sa­tion,“ said Thanasis Halatis of the agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tion of Kalyvia on the north­ern Chalkidiki penin­sula dur­ing a protest in front of the regional gov­ern­ment build­ing in Thessaloniki.

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This crop year, olive pro­duc­ers in Chalkidiki, where the region’s char­ac­ter­is­tic green, oval-shaped table olives are grown, are expected to har­vest only a frac­tion of last year’s bumper crop of 160,000 tons.

Other olive farm­ers attend­ing the protest stressed that the soar­ing pro­duc­tion costs threaten their busi­ness.

With pro­duc­tion costs at €800 per stremma from €600 last year, it becomes obvi­ous that not only will we not break even, but we will find our­selves in debt,” they said.

Similar protests took place in other olive-grow­ing regions of the coun­try, includ­ing Messenia and Laconia in the Peloponnese, Lesbos, Heraklion and Chania in Crete and Fthiotida in cen­tral Greece.

Agricultural asso­ci­a­tions and unions of olive grow­ers from all over the coun­try had announced their mobi­liza­tion in a pan­hel­lenic meet­ing in Atalanti a week before the protests, argu­ing that the prob­lem of low fruition is not spo­radic but affects the entire Greek olive sec­tor.

According to the grow­ers’ block­ade com­mit­tee, which coor­di­nated the demon­stra­tions, olive grow­ers in Greece are fac­ing a €1 bil­lion loss of income this year due to reduced crops.

In the region of Magnesia in cen­tral Greece, the poor per­for­mance of the olive trees has added an extra layer of hard­ship for a sub­stan­tial yield to local pro­duc­ers after the sum­mer wild­fires and floods.

Magnesia is home to many strem­mata [of olive trees] and has suf­fered exten­sive dam­age from the floods, the fires and the olive fruit fly, com­bined with a 95 per­cent reduc­tion in tree flow­er­ing,” said Thodoris Georgadakis, head of the region’s union of agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tions.

We request a com­pen­sa­tion of €200 per stremma, and the money must reach every­one before Christmas,” he added.

While Greek table olive pro­duc­ers are bear­ing the largest brunt of the low fruit bear­ing this year, the country’s olive oil pro­duc­ers are also impacted, with the over­all yield of olive oil expected to drop to around 200,000 tons from 340,000 tons.

Olive oil pro­duc­ers face a huge prob­lem this year,” said Dionysios Gonis of the agri­cul­tural asso­ci­a­tion of Argolida in east­ern Peloponnese, who protested the reduced yield along with other farm­ers in Nafplion.

We can’t make ends meet since we pro­duced so lit­tle olive oil,” Gonis added. Reduced fruition is not com­pen­sated by ELGA, so we are ask­ing for €200 per stremma to cover our expenses and con­tinue to grow our trees. We want the state and the regional gov­ern­ment to help us so that the olive oil does not reach con­sumers at these prices.”

The olive and olive oil pro­duc­ers who par­tic­i­pated in the protests across Greece said they would reassess the sit­u­a­tion in early January to decide on pos­si­ble new mobi­liza­tions.


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