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Country report - Greece

by Nicolette van der Smissen

This article was originally written for the publication "Organic in Europe", published by the IFOAM EU Group in collaboration with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland, and the Mediterranean Institute for Agronomic Research CIHEAM-IAM, Bari, Italy.

Key indicators 2012

  • Organic agricultural area: 462,618 hectares
  • Operators:
    • Organic producers: 23,433
    • Organic processors: 1,551
    • Organic importers: 4
    • Organic exporters: no data
  • Retail sales: EUR 60 million (2010, approximately)

Area and operator data: Eurostat.

History of organic farming

  • 1980s: Production of organic olive oil and raisins for export
  • 1993: EU Regulation (EEC) No 2092/91 comes into force
  • 2004 to 2006: Increase in organic area due to support from the EU
  • 2011: Fall in organic area and the organic market, due to the financial crisis and delays in compensatory payments for organic farming

Key sector institutions

Production base: land use and key crops

Of the total organic area of 462,618 hectares

  • 60 % consists of permanent grassland and grazing areas
  • 15.5 % permanent crops
  • 21.8 % arable land and
  • 2.7 % other agricultural land.

The key arable crops are

  • cereals (51,544 hectares)
  • green fodder from arable land, including temporary grasses and grazing areas (36,859 hectares),
  • and protein crops (3,727 hectares).

The key permanent crops are

  • olives (62,702 hectares),
  • grapes (4,997 hectares)
  • and citrus fruit (1,521 hectares).

Market

The domestic market for organic products was estimated to be around EUR 60 million (2010). The market for organic products was developing slowly until 2010, when growth was halted by the economic crisis. Between 2011 and 2013, consumption of organic products fell by almost half.

  • Market channels: Supermarkets and specialised organic shops covering about 40 to 50 % of the market each. Further channels are farmers’ markets and other points of sale.
  • Exports and imports: About one third of the organic products sold are Greek. Most of the processed products are imported. Key products for the growing export market are olive products, wine and to some extent fresh fruit, vegetables and feta cheese. No data are available on import and export volumes.

Standards, legislation, organic logo

Greek organic production is certified according to EU legislation on organic farming and other regulations, which is fully implemented; some farmers have an additional certification (Demeter). Some products, usually those which are to be exported, are certified according to the private standards of other countries (e.g. Germany, Switzerland and USA).

There is no national logo. In most cases, the logos of the Greek inspection and certification bodies are used alongside the EU organic logo.

Policy support

  • National action plans: There is no national action plan.
  • Support under the EU rural development programme: The agri-environmental programme (Γεωργοπεριβαλλοντικές Ενισχύσεις, Μέτρο 2.1.4) was to be implemented from 2009 until 2014 (five-year cycle). It opened for applications in April 2012. However, these have not yet been evaluated (August 2013).
  • Other policy support: Another EU-funded programme to improve food quality (implemented since 2009 on a five-year cycle) is intended to cover inspection and extension costs. Due to delays, no payments have been made up to now.

Research & advice

There is no organised organic research or advisory service. Activities are carried out and supported by individuals or non-governmental organisations (e.g. university professors, control and inspection bodies, farmers’ groups).

Challenges & outlook

The main need of the organic sector during a period of low economic potential, is for support through appropriate policy decisions and planning to sustain a basis on which it can develop again once the crisis is over.

Further information

For other relevant websites, see the section on key sector institutions.