February 2, 2023

Smart farming tech offers sprout of hope in Greece

A new era of Greek farmers see higher technological know-how as key to their ailing sector – Copyright AFP/File Simon MAINA

Vassilis KYRIAKOULIS, Hélène COLLIOPOULOU

Eyes glued to his cell mobile phone, farmer Sotiris Mournos pores in excess of the newest microclimate and humidity data about his fields on the plain of Imathia in northern Greece.

The high-tech farming tactics he takes advantage of are building slow development in Greece’s custom-bound and battling agricultural sector, but growers like him see them as crucial to their foreseeable future.

Mournos, 25, employs a Greek sensible-farming application to strengthen production of his family’s cotton fields and fruit trees.

Applying actual-time information recorded by a weather station, he can analyse and correlate the effects of climate problems on his 10-hectare (just about 25-acre) cotton plantation.

“We’ve managed to lower the use of fertiliser and irrigation… (and thus to) increase the financial return” of the farm, reported Mournos, who gave up studying personal computer science at university to commit himself to the relatives holding in the town of Platy.

Measuring the humidity or the nitrogen level in the soil assists to suppress the too much use of fertilisers and will save water, he notes.

As in lots of other southern European international locations, Greece’s agricultural sector is chronically shorter of h2o and wise farming could assistance deal with that difficulty.

– Boosting yields –

The sector has also misplaced a major share of its readily available labour in new decades, as young individuals snub farm do the job for improved-paid employment in products and services these as tourism.

Agriculture now represents just 5 per cent of Greece’s GDP, 50 % what it was 20 many years ago.

The government has budgeted 230 million euros ($231 million) above the up coming 3 many years to revive the country’s farming sector.

Most of that derives from the European Union’s Widespread Agricultural Coverage innovation fund.

“Most youthful men and women in my village favor other positions and have provided up doing the job in the fields,” Mournos told AFP.

But he is generating a go at farming, aiming to work intelligent by employing the farming application for several many years now.

It suggests he employs 40 % significantly less fertiliser on his cotton industry and can keep away from making use of two pesticide sprays — entirely conserving 9,000 euros (about $9,000) — with no affecting production prices.

Analysts say the farming app is not broadly applied in Greece despite the fact that desire is gradually finding up.

But persuading farmers who could be less technologically minded than Mournos to embrace it faces myriad troubles.

A crucial hurdle is the tiny dimensions of Greek farms — significantly less than 10 hectares on normal — and the country’s mainly mountainous terrain.

Greek farms are generally family businesses or entail rented fields, earning financial investment in resources and procedures considerably less attractive.

– Convincing farmers –

In the meantime, an “endemic” lack of cooperation among the farmers stops them sharing fees, suggests Aikaterini Kasimati, an agricultural engineer at the College of Agronomy in Athens.

As a outcome, Greece lags significantly driving other European states in the use of wise farming, claims Vassilis Protonotarios, advertising and marketing manager of Neuropublic, a company specialising in digital agriculture.

He explained farmers could reward from new technological innovation devoid of owning to commit in pricey products or have “specialised digital skills”.

Then, there is the difficulty of convincing farmers to check out something new.

Organic and natural farmer Thodoris Arvanitis suggests his colleagues are not fascinated in new systems because they really don’t know more than enough about them and like lengthy-used typical strategies.

“Farmers won’t go just after technology when they really do not have plenty of cash for fuel,” he included, at his farm in the little city of Kiourka, some 30 kilometres (approximately 20 miles) north of Athens.

Attitudes could transform in time as local climate improve places further tension on farm fees, claims Machi Symeonidou, an agronomist and creator of the agricultural IT startup Agroapps.

The war in Ukraine and its influence on global food items provides also displays that it is increasingly important to create foods at a regional degree, stated agricultural engineer Kasimati.

“We see a continual degradation of fields and a drop in yield,” she stated, including that water was also becoming highly-priced.

“But as the technological know-how will become less difficult and less expensive, these tools will see more use,” she additional.