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Greece requests collaboration of the sector because of the threat of the arrival of the Xylella fastidiosa
The Eastern Mediterranean country prepares actions to strengthen its olive and viticulture sectors in face of international markets.

Vassilis Kokkalis, Greek Minister of Agriculture.

The Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Food of Greece, Vassilis Kokkalis, visited Heraklion, Crete, last Friday during the two-day conference entitled "The vineyard and the production of olive oil in Crete under the conditions of climate change".

During his visit to Heraklion, V. Kokkalis went to the Agricultural School of Messara, where he visited the facilities and workshops of the director Maria Chalkiadaki and was informed about the initiatives that are in progress on their optimal exploitation. Later, Kokkalis visited the Agricultural Cooperative of Phaistos in Tympaki, where he met with representatives of the Cooperative, with whom he spoke about a series of issues that affect the rural world of the region. Special emphasis was placed on the crucial role that producer organizations and cooperatives are expected to play in the productive redevelopment of the primary sector. In the afternoon, the Deputy Minister went to Profitis Ilias of Heraklion, where he spoke at the conference entitled "The vineyard and the cultivation of the olive tree in Crete under the conditions of climate change", co-organized by the Region of Crete, the Group of Vine Producers , and producers of Cretan olives.

Below is an excerpt from his speech: "The primary sector in Crete has a strong dynamic that is based on the excellent combination of quality agricultural products with the provision of tourist services of exceptional quality, with the strong support of the State reflected in the measures of the new Rural Development and Food Program 2014-2020, Crete expects the future in the framework of a fair and sustainable development, free from the past and with the vision of permanence of young and modern companies that will incorporate the results of applied research and they will demand a share in the international markets.

Already 19 organizations in Crete are taking advantage of Operational Programs to modernize their structures, reduce production costs and incorporate innovative practices and environmentally friendly actions. The ministry is planning an informational meeting specifically for Crete Producer Organizations and the time and place will be announced soon.

At this point, I would like to make a brief reference to the serious problem of the consequences of climate change, which is also the main theme of this two-day conference, whose price is paid by the producers themselves.

As Deputy Minister in charge of Propagation of Plant Genetic Materials and Resources, I have taken concrete initiatives to create new varieties of plants that, due to their adaptability to the climate of our country, can show maximum tolerance to the pressures of climate change. Our strategic choice is to make agriculture sustainable, protect biodiversity and improve food security. Especially for olive growers, I am pleased to announce that the Institute of subtropical olive and vine plants in Chania, in collaboration with the Benaki Institute of Phytopathology, can provide certified nursery producers with certified reproductive material of the 10 varieties of olives most important in Greece.

In addition, the National Catalog of vine varieties is being updated, as well as the Technical Regulation of vine varieties, in an attempt to regulate the fundamental aspects related to viticulture in its entirety.

As responsible for the Protection of Crop Production, I would like to emphasize once again the need for cooperation from all interested parties to prevent Xylella from entering our country. The devastating bacterium for the cultivation of olive trees has recently entered the olive groves of Spain, so it is our duty to be attentive and help as much as possible to the work of the audit services.

The crucial bet for our country and the course of olive cultivation is to concentrate on the production of quality olive oil. It is true that we produce significant quantities. How many of them, however, can demonstrate the quality they are communicating? How many producers and companies prefer high quality molding methods that give less product but extremely high quality? The answer to the previous questions is given through coordinated actions of the State, businessmen and producers.

In the new Rural Development Program 2014-2020, there are specialized Measures and Actions that farmers and olive farmers must exploit to modernize the infrastructure and their way of working, organize themselves in Groups of Producers and Organizations and abandon the practices of the past that led to gold of Greek olive trees to be sold in bulk to foreign merchants to benefit those of the added value of the product. I also refer to specialized support programs for olive farmers, which for years have contributed to the promotion of olive cultivation.

Wine is one of our main products exported, since Greek wine has found a steady rhythm in international markets and has many reasons to be optimistic about its future. Regarding the actions of the Ministry of viticulture, I would like to mention that:
  • The institutional framework for promotion actions in third countries and the modernization of the warehouses will be finalized.
  • We are accelerating the procedures to implement the actions of the existing wine program and have completed the planning of the next program.
  • The new 2014-2020 Rural Development Program includes actions that support viticulture, such as investments in agricultural crops (so-called old improvement plans), processing, the creation of groups of producers and organizations and the extent of cooperation.
Our objective is to improve the procedures to evaluate and approve the payment of the promotional programs in a transparent way, respecting the EU legislation and taking into account the modern requirements of the wine sector.

In conclusion, I would like to express my optimism about the future of the primary sector, since I got in contact with producers, cooperatives, producer groups and organizations, who are actively active, producing certified quality products, with the organoleptic characteristics that concentrate the flavor of the Greek producer and the uniqueness of our place. The present is full of challenges, but the future of agricultural production is worthy and sustainable, as long as we support the modern Greek producer, the professional producer, offering him the necessary education and training so that, with the help of the Ministry, he can continue producing its products of excellent quality ".

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