No. 60. THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR IN GREECE (in Greek)
E. Kaditi, E. Nitsi. 2010. | ISBN: 978-960-341-088-1
The agricultural sector is an important factor of economic and social cohesion in Greece, both at national and regional level. The participation rate for 2006 was 5.2% in the national gross domestic product, 12% of the working population and 17.2% of total exports, indices that confirm the role and importance of the agricultural sector as a sector of economic activity and employment.
However, over the last 15 years, significant developments have changed not only the cost of production, but also the sustainability of certain industries at nationally, European and global level. Changes in the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the enlargement of the European Union (EU) towards Central and Eastern Europe, the restructuring in the production and marketing of food in the presence of strong multinational companies, frequent international food crises, the ongoing trade negotiations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as the growing interest in environmental protection are just some of the factors that create new conditions at the local and global markets for agricultural products. These developments are expected to influence producers’ expectations, many of whom consider the future uncertain and problematic. The main arising research areas are, therefore, the identification of the sectors of the Greek agriculture that have the potential to survive, and how agricultural policy can be used to support those most at risk.
The main objective of this study is to evaluate the progress and prospects of the agricultural sector in Greece by gathering information on production, consumption, prices, trade, and competitiveness. In addition, the study aims to analyze the recent developments in the structure, employment and income generated, and to demonstrate the impact of economic developments and policies on major agricultural markets. Finally, it aims to present some of the risks that might affect their further development, as well as to give policy proposals on how to address these in the near future.
More specifically, it analyzes the main indicators of the agricultural sector. It examines issues related to the structure as well as the level of employment and income at national and regional level, and by product category. Moreover, it analyzes the competitiveness and participation of every sector in the external trade of the country, while it presents the policy regime of each product category. A mid-term assessment of the future development of all sectors is also included in the report, identifying further the new challenges that should be addressed to achieve the restructuring of the Greek agricultural sector, and providing a comparison with other member states of the EU. Finally, it makes policy proposals for the foreseeable future.
The study concludes that for the development and growth of the Greek agricultural sector it is considered necessary to resolve the underlying structural problems, the modernization of farms and farming practices and infrastructure, and the selection of varieties with high quality yield. The rational use of inputs and the proper management of water resources can also contribute to improve and maintain the sector. At the same time, the focus should move towards contractual agriculture and implementation of integrated management, organic farming, production of goods with designated origin, and use of quality marks in order to increase the competitiveness of domestic production over imports. Finally, training and information to producers, creation of partnerships and networks for better organization of the sector, promotion of inter-professional agreements, and implementation of development programs for sectoral infrastructure and improved product quality, as well as R&D, can contribute to the protection of consumers and the environment, and the adaption of products to market needs.
Despite the problems in the sector, prospects exist in various industries in both internal and international markets. Specifically, cereals are cultivated in large areas of the country and contribute to the rural income and ensure local nutritional adequacy. However, restructuring of their cultivation is considered necessary, and it can be achieved by partial replacement of energy crops, forage crops for grain, hay and herbs, as well as by improving processing and marketing. Exports of cereals are mainly in bulk form without brand names. Thus,the Greek agricultural products are essential raw materials for the food industry abroad.
Regarding the cultivation of tobacco and cotton, until recently, both sectors contributed to high gross revenues and employment, especially in the case of tobacco, by capitalizing disadvantaged areas. The implementation of the new CAP, though, brought vast reduction in subsidies and thus reduced significantly the crop production. Moreover, the sugar industry exhibits diminishing returns; however, future development will be directly affected by the demand for biofuels.
High competition exist also in the global market of olive oil and vegetables, but these sectors could grow further by expanding the trade period, increase exports for quality products, promote organic farming, and invest in the processing industry, standardization and packaging, so as to export high value-added products and not inexpensive feedstock. Finally, tendencies exist for abandonment of vineyards due to increased competition from third countries, while in the industry for legumes, concentration of production in small units is observed. Therefore, it is required that special attention be given to those industries implementing appropriate measures to strengthen them.
As for the livestock production, there is a small decrease in total consumption. Problems such as high production costs, competition from imported meat from EU countries, weaknesses in the control system of marketing, incomplete decoupling of livestock have also contributed to the decline of the industry. However, potential for further development exists, as Greek consumers prefer domestic products considering them safer and of higher quality. Measures such as adequate management and utilization of pasture, reduction of the cost for modernization, effective market controls, application of traceability and monitoring of the use of imported products, as well as the establishment of inter-professional organizations and continuous training of farmers can positively influence the development of this industry.