This essay is a study of greekorganic agriculture from a Food Regime Theory (FRT) perspective. Using as areference Friedmann and McMichael’s Food Regime Theory, I tried to explain thedevelopment of organic agriculture in Greece from 1860 till today. Theintroduction refers briefly to organic agriculture in general. The introductionfollowed by the development of agriculture in Greece during the periods of 2 Food Regimes. Then, the organic agriculturein Greece is described and what was the reason which drove Greece in a newsocial movement, as a consequence of the 2nd Food Regime.
The last part of this essay isthe description of the social movement which is the creation of eco-villagesand seeds exchange network. Keywords: organic agriculture, Food Regime, eco-villages,seed exchange networkIntroduction “Organic agricultureis a holistic production management system which promotes and enhancesagro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soilbiological activity. It emphasizes the use of management practices inpreference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking into account that regionalconditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using,where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed tousing synthetic materials, to fulfil any specific function within thesystem.” (FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission, 1999).Organic agriculture is a result of theproblems and the differences in agricultural production methods that have been placedsince the beginning of the last century, mainly in northern Europe. Importantsteps of development of organic agriculture started in 1924.
On the other hand, conventionalagriculture aims to produce agricultural products using pesticides andfertilizers. The advantages and the goals are to increase production andimprove the quality of agricultural products. However, it also presentssignificant disadvantages such as the water pollution of groundwater, soil, floraand fauna contamination. It also has an impact on human either directly (exposeto pesticides) or indirectly (with the consumption of agricultural productscontaining pesticide residues).The widespread application ofchemical synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture has the to increasethe production and improve the agricultural products, especially in theirappearance.
Greece characterized as anagricultural country. Greek farmers used to cultivate their lands from theancient times. They produced mostly wine and olive oil. Traditional farmingsystems were used to cultivate the land.These systems could characterize asorganic as chemical and pesticides were not used.
After WWII, in 1954 Greekfarmers started to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides in order to increasetheir production.Agriculturaldevelopment in Greece in the period of first food regime (1860-1914)In this period of 1860-1914, the Greeknation State developed in the agriculture and focused on exports especially theperiod of 1860ies – 1870ies . In this period the commercial cultivated land isexpanded as the rapid greek population growth is observed. (Petmezas 2003,131-133). Currants, wine, fresh fruits, lemons and silk were exported fromIonian islands.In 1870ies and 1880ies, the GreatDepression did not affect the Greek exports comparatively with the othercountries of the world because Greece exported a product in which the price wasnot fell down.
Greece exported currants to France for wine production. In 1874the percententage of exported currants was 64% of the total amount of greekexports but in 1892 the amount of exported currants were decreased because the Frenchgovernment enforced a tariff. As a result, the price for all currants decreasedand in 1910 the greek agrarian sector lost the economic power. The controlpassed to a financial group which aims to use a cheap raw material to the wineindusrty (Petmezas 1999, 68-72). In the period of agricultural andfinancial crisis (1892-1908), a large number of people migrate to USA(1900-1924).Agriculturaldevelopment in Greece in the period of second food regime (1945-1973)After World War II, the consequencesin Greece were devastating.
Firstly, the economy of Greece was destroyed andsecondly, Greece comes into a civil war because of the formation of resistancecamp. These two consequences drove Greece into involvement with the USA. In1948, USA grants 649$ million to Greece through the Marshall Aid on purpose toavoid Greece to join the communist block. Greece became a member of GATT in1950. Conformity to the rules of the trade and tariffs enhanced Greece to be amember of the EEC.
GATT later developed into WTO. The creation of thisorganization accompanied by extending the negotiations to new fields such asservices, copyright, agricultural and textile products and by more a activerole in developing countries. Greece became a member of WTO in 1995. GATT andconsequently WTO was the clearest paradigm of neoliberalism.After 1954 and mainly in 1960 asignificant development noticed. Through the massive usage of chemicalfertilizer, pesticides and the use of machinery, Greece followed the last twoof three agricultural revolutions (Bairoch 1989; Mazoyer & Roudart 1997). Land and labor productivityincreased impressively. Moreover, more agricultural investments took place andagricultural buildings constructed (ATE 1985, 20-30).
This development isintertwined with land?s concentration. In this period a new powerful group of farmers weredominant as they rent land and equipment to undercapitalized farmers. OrganicAgriculture in Greece Organic farming in Greece began in the early 1980s.The first organic producers were mainly amateurs who wanted to test the variousorganic farming methods. Organic has gotten a commercial character in 1982 whena Dutch company showed interest in the production of organic raisins (soultana).Cooperation with the Dutch certified organization Skal began the conversion toorganic farms in Aegio. Since 1986, a German company has supported theproduction of organic table olives and olive oils for export.
In the nextyears, individual farmers who were supervised by foreign certification bodies(Skal, Soil Association, Naturland), have turned their farms into organic. Themain products were olive oil, fresh citrus fruits, wine, cereals, kiwi andcotton. Although, there are no official data on organic farming during theperiod from 1982 to 1992.
According to some estimates, there have been almost150 producers of 2000 hectares in total. (Y.?.?.
?.?.). In 1993, with the implementation of CommunityRegulation 2092/91, in Greece has given an important incentive to convert manyconventional crops into organic. Thus, organic farming in Greece made itsappearance officially in 1994, when 11,882 hectares of the cultivated organicarea was only 0.03% of the total cultivated area. Since then, a period of rapiddevelopment begun. As a result, in 2003, the whole area with organic crops was389,951 hectares which were corresponded to 1.
15% of the total agriculturalarea (Y.?.?.?.?.).In particular, the development of organic agriculturein the period of 1994-1998 is characterized by intense growth rates of organic cultivatedareas.
Also, the number of organic farmers increased. During this period, the total organically cultivated area in the countryshowed an annual growth rate of 100%. The rates of the new organic farmerswere similar.
After 1998, this rate showed a significant decline but remainedpositive. The total amount of organic area increased by 25% per year.A significant evolution was in the period of 2004-2006as the subsidies programs brought a significant number of producers intoorganic farming. In 2009, Greece has the new European regulation on organicaquaculture. In 2011, Greece has the regulation for organic wine, so a largepart of requirements are covered.Today Greece has a very dynamic internal organicmarket, despite the export orientation.
Nowadays, in the Greek area, organicproducts are available in more than 70 markets, super markets and stores whichspecialized in sales in organic products.However, since 2010 there was a marked decline in thenumber of organic farmers such as and the number of organic arable land. Thathappened because of completion of the 2005 and 2006 subsidy’s program fororganic farmers. Good or bad, the existence or completion of a subsidyprogram correspond perfectly to the statistical picture of organic farmers. So,as long as we have subsidies we also have organic farming! This is true for thebig majority of the rural population, while there are of course someexceptions. Organic farmers with vision and good relationship with the marketsand consumers and therefore they do not need any subsidy.The latest statistics from the Ministry of RuralDevelopment and Food gives a good impression for the Greek organic farming. Indetail, the extent of organic farming in Greece in 2010 counted 3.
7% of thetotal crop, including pastures. The largest organic farms were pastures(1,522,150,94 hectares), followed by arable land (848,005,10 hectares),permanent crops such as fruit citrus, vine, olive (667.145,83 hectares) ofwhich the largest part was olive.
Then follow the vegetables (28,981.31hectares) including mushrooms, melon and vegetables, and finally legumes8487.51 hectares (?.?.?.?.?).
Geographically, the distribution of organic farming isunequal. It is limited to few relevant regions. Thus, Peloponnese collectssubstantially more than half of the land and organic farmers. Then followCentral Greece, Crete and Ionian Islands.Regarding the domestic organic production, the varietyof products that are included are particularly small.
The activity of themajority of organic farmers selectively focuses on only some crops.In particular, olive cultivation is the most importantcrop of the country, accounting 44,4% of the area of organic farming andfollowed by cereals by16,2%, viticulture by 8,1% and citrus fruit cultivationby 5.3%. These four products account 74% of organic farming in Greece.The above-mentioned restriction which concerns theorganic cultivated species in Greece is mainly related to the existinginstitutional applicable framework in the country. But it is also related tothe existing constraints on the level of know-how, in terms of successfulimplementation of organic cultural methods.
Finally, it is also related withthe general attitude of the Greek peasants regarding their attitude to newagricultural activities and to the almost instigated use of the EU CAP’sfinancial support system; in which they are especially adherent (Pantzius andTzouvelekas, 2000). New social movementsThe economic crisis has provoked and continues toprovoke significant socio-economic-spatial transformations in Greece since 2008until today. This imprint of this deep recession is expressed through economicchanges, very high unemployment rates (31,3 %), through the deterioration inthe quality of life and the increase in the percentage of people living belowor below the poverty line (34.6%) (http://www.
statistics.gr).At the same time of social – economical – political collapse’s system, thereare two major socio – demographic trends. The first is the massive exit ofyoung people go abroad and the second one is the transition to rural areas and peoplestart to cultivate their land again. Many people took the decision to startorganic cultivation using the subsidies from the European Union for the newproducers. On the other hand, in Greece, there is another groupof people who concerned about the quality of their life and they try to resistto the massive production and consumerism which are consequences from the 2 FoodRegime. As a result, a new self – management community was born which focusesmore on a better quality of life in combination with protecting the environmentand enhancing biodiversity. These communities start to construct new ??green?? villages which are eco-friendly and sustainable.
These villagescalled eco-villages. For Greece, this is something new, but for the rest of theworld is well-known from the 1960s and 1970s (the period of 2 FR crisis). Inparallel, another initiative has started which is seed’s exchange. Eco-villagesIn 1991, Robert Gilman gave the definition of an eco-village.Eco-village is: “human-scale full-featured settlement inwhich human activities are harmlessly integrated into the natural world in away that is supportive of healthy human development, and can be successfullycontinued into the indefinite future.”Another definition is given by Kosha Joubert, theexecutive director of the Global Ecovillage Network. Ecovillage defined as: “intentional, traditional; arural or urban community that is consciously designed through locally owned,participatory processes in all four dimensions of sustainability (social,culture, ecology and economy) to regenerate their social and naturalenvironments.
” Eco-villages is a social movement which started at the1960s and 1970s and at the mid-1980s became more organized. Eco-villagesenhance the ecosystem biodiversity and promote organic farming and permaculture.The movement to Eco-villagesin GreeceBased on this context, they have begun to form and dothe first steps the eco-villages in Greece. In 21/05/2006, a group set up withthe title “Initiative for development andcreation of ecological villages and ecosystems ” and started the Greeke-group “eco-villages”. The trigger forthe creation of this group was the 4th European Social Forum whichtook place on May 2006 in Athens. The framework of this Forum, the organizationof the workshop on “Eco – villages – anotherworld is feasible” was held after proposal and cooperation with threesides: the Greek membership initiative to GEN and representatives of the Zeggeco-community in Germany and Findhorn in Scotland.
The ” Movement for the Dissemination andGeneration of Eco-villages in Greece ” which followed, attracted people ofvarious social, economic and ideological classes with a common point at the creationof sustainable residences on a human scale. What is done, is the collection ofinformation and especially experiences in the context of the creation ofHellenic Network of Eco-village Communities. At the same time, it is veryimportant and necessary the communication between local population andeco-village community. In parallel, communication and exchange of experienceswith global Eco-villages Network, based on the emerging principles:v Permaculturev Respect for Nature – Respect to Human – FairDistribution Greek eco-villagesThe Greek Eco-village Network is an initiative for theunity, collaboration, and promotion of eco-villages of Greece. It supportsbrotherhood in material goods, equality of human relations and freedom ofspirits. All decisions are taken with the consensus of all members and theassemblies are open for everyone who is interested.
The working groups andactions are autonomous and the process that is followed is circular. On thewebsite, an attempt is made to present these communities which are developed inGreece in recent years. There are differences in each community.
A commonvision inspires all eco-villages. The network has prospects for further development. Eventhough, there are already organized eco – villages and there are many othersthat are in early stages of development and encounter problems such as: findinga place for installation, fully conscious members, financial issues, etc. Whatthey are looking for is support and proper organization in order to withstandin time and achieve the ecological goals. Sharing common goals and sharingeffort for their achievement is the key that will bring more members to thesecommunities and make them viable. Examples of eco-villages inGreeceIn Greece, they are not flourishing such initiativesand they are still in an early stage. Generally, these small communities arethroughout in Greece, mainly on the mainland but also in some islands. Aspecial case is an area of Pelion and more general the area of Magnesia, wherea large amount of thee communities are located there.
The particular landscapeand the natural environment may be appealing for their creation n this area.Several of these are included in the official Greek Network such as “EarthlingsFarm”, “SpithariWalkinglife Project”, “The Garden”, “TheTelaithrion Project”, “Ecotopia”, “Meltemi”,”Enlarjia” and the education centre “Kalikalos”. Seeds Exchange NetworkMore and more people are interested in gardening andself-sufficiency. They began to think about ways to regain control in the foodsupply in order to be more independent from the industrial food production. In2002 BUKO campaign is activated by protesting against the companies thatproduce GMO seeds and pharmaceutical companies.
This campaign support localinitiatives and communities as well as those which originated from groups offarmers and producers. After the European Seminar on Seeds in Europe which tookplace in Halle in Germany in 2007, emphasizes in ‘liberation of seeds’. (www.biopiraterie.
de)Seeds Exchange Network inGreece – PelitiBefore the financial crisis, people who were lookingfor traditional varieties wanted them for a better quality of life. Today, thesearch and cultivation of local varieties is a matter of survival.These precious seeds can be purchased for free fromeveryone. Every year Peliti has the ability to send seeds free of charge toproducers, from October till December.
Another way is through celebrationswhich are organized by the community Peliti. Peliti together with local teamsorganizes more than 40 festivals every year in the country where seeds are distributed.Seeds can also be obtained from the leaflet Peliti.There are many professional farmers today whocultivate varieties from Peliti and thousands of consumers who consume thatproducts. If there was not Peliti, many varieties would not exist.
The mostsignificant example is the monococco wheat Kalpoutzas variety. Unfortunately,many producers prefer to use industrial seeds because it is easier for them. However,according to law, seeds in order to be marketed, they must record on thenational or European list. To be listed, they must have some characteristicssuch as uniformity and stability. These characteristics do not have localvarieties. There is a number of restrictions under the current legislation.There are also current legal prohibitions.
Farmers who want the subsidy, theyhave to declare that they have purchased registered seed, as all subsidyprograms are linked to the seeds of the list. However, this situation has begun to change. Peoplewere not interested in the issue of local varieties 25 years ago. Today, thingschanged. Peliti has 20 local teams and there are 40 more other groups indifferent regions in Greece. The farmers who choose these traditional varietiesfrom Peliti, they show their resistance to multinational firms. Peliti has also many collaborations in Greece withother teams, universities and research institutes and it has manycollaborations with foreign institutes, too.
In Bulgaria, there is a local teamof Peliti and in the last 4 years, there is a festival for exchanging seedsbased on the principles of Peliti. In 2016 in Cyprus, it was organized thefirst school garden with traditional varieties. This initiative inspired somefarmers in Turkey. Peliti, also supports a native Maya community in Guatemala. Nowadays,Peliti is a member of the global seed freedom movement (seedfreedom.info) andparticipates in a European platform on legislation. The festival which isorganized every year with ‘Exchange Traditional Varieties’ has a global impactwhile it is organized a series of world actions such as International Seeds Dayin Greece in 2012, in 2013. In 2014, Peliti supported the International SeedsDay in France, organized the first global meeting for common goods in 2015 andfinally in 2016 participated in the trial against Monsanto in Hague.
ConclusionIn conclusion, I would like to fit Greek agricultureinto FRT. Greece was a nation -state which based on the agriculture and especiallyto exports before the First Food Regime. Greece was an agriculture country andthe only source of money was the trade. After the period of WWII and in theperiod of Second Food Regime, US hegemony help Greece providing 649$ million inorder to ‘help’ Greece. The main purpose of this plan was to avoid Greece fromcommunism.
Then Greece starts to develop again in the period of crisis of the 2Food Regime in the agricultural sector as chemical fertilizers and pesticidesare used to increase the production. Also, Greece becomes a member of aneoliberalism organization (American and British initiative) in which issuesfor international trade, commercial investments and tariffs are included. However,people in the rural area avoid using chemical fertilizers and experience inorganic methods. In 1982 the organic agriculture is commercialized and a newcooperation with foreign certified companies start.
From this period and after,growth and recession in organic production are noticed. Especially in theperiod of 1994-1998 when the total organic cultivated area in the countryshowed an annual growth rate of 100%. Subsidies from the European Union helpedto this development but when they stopped a decline has noticed.
The mostsignificant decrease was in 2010 when Greece faced an economic crisis. Fromthis period many social, economical and political changes were noted. ?t the same time, in most Greek cities, efforts,networks and initiatives are noticed. These initiatives are active in the urbanenvironment and concern solidarity and spare networks, direct food, exchange oftraditional seeds, eco-villages, etc (http//:enallaktikos.
gr/anotherword, 2013)and show their protest in an industrialized and massive production system. Suchinitiatives are on a small scale in Greece because they have started recently butit is very important how a Greek community started to think in a different way andstarted to be more organized. It is very significant also that young people becomemore critical and more active to related issues that include globalization, environmentalimpacts, industrialization, massive production, global diet and how all these arelinked with the organic farming. and the direct relationship and not distant (characteristicof the 2 Food Regime) with the products, foods and the farmers.