Greek Minister Tsaftaris: Sustainable Food Production Should Be a Basic Element of Our Civilization
Today, just as the E.U. is heatedly debating the Common Agricultural Policy, I stumbled upon these videos which are a real gem for those of us concerned about food production, because they say so much that is applicable to everyone, everywhere. In the subtitled videos which were made several months ago, a Greek citizen by the name of Pavlos Georgiadis travels around in his unreliable yellow Citroen bug car, and interviews some of Greece’s younger people who have sought hope and opportunity in their nation’s countryside after seeing the hopelessness of ever becoming employed in the urban areas.
But, they need help…
The gist of the story is that 1.5 million younger people in Greece, many with college degrees, want to farm during this aftermath of Greece’s financial crisis. Their problem is the limited availability of water, the cost of power, fertilizer, and petroleum. Some of them expressed the opinion that Greece prefers to import food instead of produce it, making the nation food insecure. The film is a visual feast, especially if you like the Mediterranean diet. Pavlos visits a farm allotment having 100-year old grape vines, a snail farm, a vegetable farm, a greenhouse growing bananas, and a large dairy, interviewing each of the farmers to find out what they are doing and what their concerns are.
One farmer discusses an Ag policy in Greece over the past several decades that has supported the production of a few monoculture crops like cotton. This seems a terrible waste given their climate and good Thessalian Plain soil.
In the fourth video, Georgiadis visits with Greek Rural Development and Food Minister, Athanasios Tsaftaris, who is representing Greece in the negotiations for the reform of the new E.U. Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Georgiadis and Tsaftaris recognize that the younger generation would like to be able to profit in the countryside through producing quality food, not by increasing the amount of production. The Minister discusses climate change with him. He says that Greece is seeing water scarcity along with increased flooding, and new diseases such as a fungus which is wiping out Chestnut forests, new pests on crops, and even NEW FISH seen by fishermen.
When asked “Is this compatible with the concept of sustainability?” the Minister answers, “We have to respect the future generations. This is the meaning of sustainability. The way that our generation depletes natural resources and misuses the inputs for the production process raises production costs and causes harm to the environment …to manage the production process more sustainably is also a basic element of our civilization. We should not be driven by over-consumption or else we will harm the environment so much to the point where the process becomes irreversible.”
Now, back to the subject of the contentious debate going on in the E.U. over their Ag policy negotiations. The legislation now has over 350 amendments and the greening of the bill has been scaled back greatly, as expected. In spite of fairly severe proposed cuts, the CAP budget will still account for nearly 40% of the E.U.’s budget in 2014-2020.
The debate is going on today and the full Parliament vote on the four pieces of legislation is tomorrow.
This comes at a time when more extreme weather events are requiring strong safety nets for farmers, many want to see healthy food production that is produced sustainably, austerity measures are requiring budget cut-backs, and nations want to increase their Ag exports to help their fiscal situations.
I hope that you enjoy watching this set of videos as much as I did.