PRESENTATION: PILOT AREA KOLYMVARI-CHANIA-CRETE. INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR ADVANCED MEDITERRANEAN AGRONOMIC STUDIES MEDITERRANEAN AGRONOMIC INSTITUTE OF CHANIA-GREECE. Characteristics of the local farming sector. Exceptional agricultural products are produced in the area. The majority
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INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR ADVANCED MEDITERRANEAN AGRONOMIC STUDIES
MEDITERRANEAN AGRONOMIC INSTITUTE OF CHANIA-GREECE
Exceptional agricultural products are produced in the area. The majority
of the farmland (80.14%) is occupied by perennial cultivations like olive
trees while the rest is cultivated by vegetables (2.40%) and vineyards
(3.80%), while the rest is arable (8.75%) and set-aside (5.08%) land. In
order for farmers to ensure a proper income they have to make their
cropping and cultivating choices very carefully and cannot easily
diversify their activities.
Most of the households in the area are self-sufficient meaning that they
“have everything”: vineyards, olive trees, a garden and a livestock of
several kinds (sheep, goats, chickens, etc).
Diversifying income sources or pluriactivity is definitely an important
phenomenon given that a lot of inhabitants are either private or civil
servants or are involved in activities such as provision of services,
Three main zones can be defined in the area of
i) the coastal area where most of the households deal with
activities such as fishing,tourism, commercial activities etc.
ii) the “middle zone” that is dominated by olive groves and
iii) the northern and most hilly part where animal breeding
is one of the main sources of income.
Different types of farming methods could be found
in the Municipality of Kolymvari. The majority or
even all farmers in the area are owners of olive
groves but not all of them consider oliveculture as
their main source of income. Thus, a distinction
could be made between the big intensive olive
growers who are part-time farmers and who
mainly use olive oil for personal family use and
the ones that produce olive oil but are also
engaged in complementary farming activities.
It is important to note that according to the Council Regulation
EEC No 2081/92 the olive oil that is produced exclusively from
olives of the delimited geographical zone of the administrative
district of Kolymvari, in which olives have been produced since
1204, is recognized as PDO under the name: Eleolado POP
“Kolimvari Chanion Kritis”.
According to the Council Regulation (EEC) No 2081/92 of 14
July 1992 on the protection of geographical indications and
designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs:
an agricultural product or foodstuff bearing such an indication
must meet certain conditions set out in a specification. Only a
group (meaning any association, irrespective of its legal form or
composition, of producers and/or processors working with the
same agricultural product or foodstuff) or a natural or legal
person (subject to certain conditions) shall be entitled to
apply for registration.
Up to day the Greek authority responsible for the control and
inspection of the production process and the processing of the
PDO product was given by the Hellenic Ministry of Agriculture to
the Local Directorate of Agriculture. This responsibility, however,
is now undertaken by a newly established organisation, the so-
called “Agriculture product inspection & certification scheme”
However, despite the favorable climatic conditions prevailing in
the area, agriculture presents a slow development and
modernization rate mainly due to certain peculiarities which
determine its progress. The small size of farming land, decreasing
employment opportunities, unstable incomes, reduced subsidies,
lack of alternative cropping solutions and a constantly changing,
complex policy situation are the main drawbacks for the
development of organic and multifunctional agriculture.
Organic farming in the area under examination is still in its early
stage. Nowadays there are thirteen organic producers in the
area, cultivating an area of about 80.6 hectares. Most of them are
involved in the olive oil industry (79.75% ha are occupied by olive
trees, while the rest is cultivated by vegetables, citrus fruits and
vineyards). Two of the organic farmers are definitely pioneers
given that they converted to organic right after the enforcement of
the EC Reg 2092/91.
Moreover they package and export most of the quantity
produced abroad and mainly in USA, Canada and Japan. The
limitation of organic production to a small number of perennial
cultivations can be explained by the national institutional and
economic framework of organic agriculture as well as by the
existing know-how for the practical applications of organic
cultivation techniques. Thus, the promotion of olive cultivation
as a basic organic cultivation in the area is directly related to:
climate conditions. Olive cultivation has a long-standing
tradition in the semi-mountainous regions of the Kolymvari
area. This area has optimal local varieties and in many parts
of the area, the traditional extensive way of olive cultivation is
still surviving. On the other hand, organic olive cultivation
does not differ in many aspects from traditional cultivation; it
does not require complex intervention whereas the European
subsidy per hectare based on Regulation E.E. 2078/92 offers
a motivation for the exploitation of small, abandoned olive
groves in mountainous areas.
developed regarding organic fertilizing and pest
control in olive cultivation. The confrontation of
these problems in olive cultivation is a research
objective in many national research teams,
whereas organic cultivation techniques have been
applied for nearly twenty years, which means that
organic farmers have precious experience.
quality olive oil in combination with the existence
of some trading institutions for organic olive oil
(private or unions). Due to this background, a high
percentage or organic olive oil goes to the export
market, and in most cases the prices paid to the
producer are substantially higher than the prices
for conventional olive oil.
Undoubtedly the optimal soil and climatic conditions
prevailing in the region, the knowledge concerning olive
cultivation, the assistance provided by the agronomist
favored the attempt of those organic farmers that set the
example for the promotion of organic agriculture in the area.
Obviously, the organic farmers to be found in the area are
big olive –growers that share characteristics such as
knowledge, experience and willingness to change.
Moreover, they take risks and learn; they enforce
professionalism and foster feelings of sensitization to
According to what a stakeholder interviewed said: “farmers
of the Municipality of Kolymvari can act very well as such,
but they are very bad entrepreneurs mainly due to their
low educational level and their inability to understand the
entrepreneurial and market environment”. Moreover, most
of the stakeholders that were interviewed emphasised that
the small size of the farms, the lack of infrastructure
(limited irrigation and road networks, lack of an
Organisation / Advisory body) are the main difficulties to
The contribution of education and training to farming
practices is becoming more important in cases where
environmental issues are considered. The education level
is a critical indicator of the quality of human capital and
affects the farmers’ ability to co-ordinate the operation of
various enterprises in order to search for alternatives and
avoid excessive losses. The age of the farmer composes
an important indicator in explaining the adoption of new
practices and technologies at the farm level. Younger
farmers have been found to be more knowledgeable about
new practices and may be more willing to bear risk.
The majority of the plantations that are found in
the area of Kolymvari can be characterised as
“Intensified traditional plantations”. They follow
traditional patterns but are under intensive
management making systematic use of fertilisers.
There is a tendency to intensify further by means
of irrigation, increased tree density, use of
chemicals and mechanical harvesting.
Most of the farmers are “kept in captivity” by the
production process, given that they are “obliged”
to sell their product under certain conditions. They
sell their product in bulk quantities and they don’t
act as entrepreneurs. Only a small quantity of the
olive oil produced is packaged, while the rest is
exported in bulk quantities to Italy or to some
multinationals in Greece. Moreover, very few of
them are involved in the whole distribution chain.
However, some efforts have been made to
encourage producers to collaborate in order to
allow them to promote their product together,
thereby imposing better prices. Undoubtedly there
is a need to replace private actions with more
organized ones. In this region, there are neither
auction centres, like the ones existing in Kountoura
and Ierapetra (Eastern Crete), that could help
farmers enhance their entrepreneurial skills, nor a
Consultant organization to support the farmers.
Oliveculture has both positive and negative environmental
effects. These effects depend on several factors including
prevailing environmental conditions in and around the
plantation (soil type, slope, rainfall, presence of water
supply bodies and farm management practices). The main
categories of actual and potential environmental effects are
associated with the management of the olive plantations
such as soil, water, air, landscape, biodiversity.
Soil erosion is one of the principal environmental
problems associated with olive farming. Traditionally,
terraces were created with supporting stonewalls to
allow the cultivation of the hillsides. Their maintenance
however, is labour intensive and abandonment is quite
common. The over-exploitation of the water resources
for irrigation is an enormous environmental problem in
the area. Irrigation is expanding rapidly although ground
water resources are already severely depleted.
From an agronomic point of view the main issues related
to the oliveculture are the maintenance of soil fertility and
pest control. The existence of the Dacus Olea in large
population in the area consists one of the main problems
of the oliveculture.
Moreover, the organic alternative proposes the application
of animal manure and green manure rather than the use
of chemical fertilisers and the use of biological methods
(e.g traps) instead of the conventional treatment of Dacus
Olea, are used.
Olive farming provides an important source of employment
in many areas of the Municipality of Kolymvari where it is
either a principal employer or an important part-time
employer combined with other activities such as tourism.
Moreover, the morphology of the land creates difficulties in
the application of cultivation techniques which doesn’t
facilitate the production of other products.
The favourable climatic conditions allow the production of
high quality products. The production process from
harvesting to processing and marketing faces economic
problems. In the cultivation phase, the means for the
fighting of insects and the fertilisers are very expensive.
The favourable climatic conditions allow the production of
high quality products but the integration is very limited. This
is so mainly due to the fact that the processing sector does
not help create contacts with private enterprises in order to
try to sell the product directly to the market without the
middleman. In the last decade, the downgraded action of
cooperatives and Unions halted standardization. So now,
they do not have proper exports and trade. Producers
comply with the suggested level of integration by supplying
goods and services enterprises that, in most of cases,
facilitate them by undertaking the delivery of the inputs.
As far as the marketing sector is concerned, farmers are
content with selling the product. An attempt is made by
some people to motivate farmers to concentrate on the
brand named olive oil, quality assurance, and protected
denomination of origin/ geographical indication approval
But the oil industry does not certify the product with a label
such as “product of origin” and “geographical indication
product”, even if it is of high quality, because it is not
written in the label therefore it does not differ from the
According to official data 54.2% of the population is
employed in the Agricultural sector while 11.9% and 28.0%
is employed in the secondary and tertiary economic sector,
respectively. The secondary sector is rudimentary in its
development. Only small individual businesses are mainly
involved in handicraft or engaged in the processing of the
products of the primary sector. The tertiary sector is the
second most important in the area and it enjoys continuous
growth because of tourism and its alternative forms.
However most people employed in tourism do not rely on
this exclusively, but are also involved in other activities to
supplement their income.
In fact, there aren’t any organised intersectoral network
linkages besides the direct ones existing among the
primary (farming and animal breeding), secondary
(industry) and tertiary (tourism and other services) sectors.
Relations are mainly developed at a personal level rather
than through well structured channels. More specifically,
agriculture provides products and supports the
development of tourism and agritourism, while the shops
provide inputs to the agricultural sector.
Coherence between emerging sectors (tourism) and the
existing ones (agriculture) is of crucial importance. When
referring to the Municipality of Kolymvari, it is obvious that
there is a continuous interrelation / interdependence
between those two sectors. Farming supports tourism that
seems to add value to local products and provides an
alternative /additional source of income. Furthermore, the
development of tourism as well as agro-tourism is based on
the existence and the exploitation of the local resources.
However, there is an increasing competition among the
agricultural and tourism sector with regard to the use of the
available natural, capital, human resources.
Unfortunately there is very limited cooperation
among the farmers. Moreover, the marketing /
processing organisations are comprised of a close
relation among the enterprises of the primary
sector, the agricultural enterprises and the Unions
of Agricultural Coops. There is direct dependence
among them only as far as the production and
distribution needs are concerned.
There are also special programmes referring to
Organic Farming but farmers don’t benefit from
the “Improvement Plans” that are financed by the
Directorate of Agriculture of the Prefecture of
Chania. Also, someone must have land and some
speciality, like mountainous land, to have a form
of enterprise, age limits, to PDO and PGI products
in order to be subsidized.
There is an inter-Municipalities Developmental enterprise
but it doesn’t help a lot. It is not very efficient. Moreover, all
departments of the Prefecture and the Municipality related to
the environment, training and culture should be motivated
and involved. Some efforts were made to set up a group of
producers. However, as there is neither the infrastructure
nor the motivation to undertake this project, no suitable
distribution was found by the producers. However, without
infrastructure (Olive Oil Mills) this can not work.
Finally there was a proposal initiated by an
Organic Consumers’ and Producers’ Cooperation
called GAIA, that could promote their production
under a common name. This initiative was
promoted by exhibitions, internet, and an organic
certification sign. In general the key objective is
the vertical integration of the production process.
Institutional development is an aid through which local
community members can empower themselves and
generate the knowledge base and enthusiasm necessary for
conservation and for involvement in community
development. Such institutional forms in the area of
Kolymvari are: Agricultural Coops, women’s organisations
and youth organisations. The Union of the Agricultural
Coops and the Agricultural Coops play an important role,
provided that they assist the agricultural activity and
undertake the processing, marketing and promotion of
To a wider extent, the relationships of:
All the Communities are mountainous so they can be
incorporated into many Developmental Programs, the
“Mountain communities” programs, is a Community program
for the exploitation of mountainous areas.
The agroenvironmental conditions of the area under
investigation are in favour of the production of high quality
and organic agricultural products. The most crucial point
however, is that there is no infrastructure. For example: for
oil factories of organic olive oil, there is no legislation that
would ensure proper production. Somebody can be
certified in Greece, in every stage, but there is a gap as far
as the extraction of olive oil is concerned.
There is no olive oil Mill that can provide the right conditions
to ensure the producer about the production of organic olive
oil. The product may come out with residues and thus will
not be certified. The certification comes from the ‘DIO’, the
‘Biohellas’ (Soya). Finally, no olive oil Mill exists that would
produce only organic olive oil.
During the last 10 years Organic Agriculture had an
increase of 6%. There are 50 organic farmers in the
prefecture of Chania. Big quantities are produced and sold
in shops specializing in organic products as well as in
The main factors to foster the development of Organic
Agriculture in the area are:
Community support to the organic producers is very
limited. They receive 37 € per stremma for the first 5 years
(1 stremma is 1000m2 or 1 stremma = 1/10 hectare).
There are some pioneers in the area such as "Biolea",
who organised vertical integration. But provided that
technical-agronomic infrastructure does not exist, small
farmers can not undertake the entire process. There is no
olive oil Mill that can provide the right conditions to ensure
the producer about the production of organic olive oil. The
product may come out with residues and thus will not be
certified. The certification comes from the ‘DIO’, the
‘Biohellas’ (Soya). Finally, no olive oil Mill exists that would
produce only organic olive oil.
Most farming establishments are family owned.
Therefore, to make a profit they have to reduce
inputs. Most of them don’t actually believe that
organic agriculture could be a source of additional
income for them. There isn’t any Certification and
Control Body to continuously secure organic
production as far credibility/reliability is
Moreover most of the factors discourage the farmers to
convert to organic:
Last but not least, organic and multifunctional
agriculture can only be developed if the vertical
production mode is followed and many different
products are produced to secure the viability of
agriculture and local areas as well.