AGRICULTURAL COOPERATIVE COUP
Fruit & Vegetables Producers Group
Our group was established in 2006 with more than 100 producers as members. The group stayed in the Pre-Recognition phase for six years. During this period and after all the necessary conditions were met, producers - members were subsidized with herbal capital (eg trees) and capital equipment (eg irrigation systems). As a result, our producers strengthened their efforts in improving the quality of their products, whilst new varieties have been cultivated that are competitive in the international fruit and vegetables market and capable of enhancing our presence. Nonetheless, the most important step that took place during the Pre-Recognition phase, was the creation of sorting and standardization facilities for our members' products. The implementation of this investment amounted to € 2,500,000 and included further the construction of a 2,000 sq.m. packaging plant with technical equipment, orange and watermelon sorting and packaging lines, cooling chambers, office buildings and all the necessary capital needed to create added value in our products. Currently, up to 50 workers are employed on a seasonal basis. The development and economy of our region is based primarily on its arable land. Undoubtedly, the fertile plains of our region constitute a strong incentive for their effective exploitation by old and new producers. The need to standardize and promote agricultural products, led to the creation of our Producer’s Group aiming to ensure high quality of our produced goods, their standardization and promotion, as well as the financial security of our members.
Since 2014, O.P. KAMPOU has been implementing operational programs as to further strengthen its presence in the market by focusing more on promoting its products.
The amount of these operational programs reaches a total of €150.000 on a yearly basis with actions such as:
Implementation of Integrated Management Programs (GLOBAL GAP, ISO 22000, AGRO 2.1 & 2.2)
Installation of modern information systems and computerized analytical accounting system with the maintenance of Class C books based on E.L.P.
Employment of highly qualified personnel
Improvement of equipment
The fiscal crisis has highlighted the chronic problems of the current growth model of the Greek economy, which are mainly summarized in low competitiveness, low competition in markets coupled with the inefficient operation of the Public Sector. The consequences of the above are mainly the persistent budget deficits even in times of high growth, the high public debt, the high current account deficit, the low employment rate and the unfavorable business growth environment.
The international competitiveness of domestically produced products and services is low whilst the share of exports (products and services) to national GDP is the lowest in the EU, especially when compared to other small economies, thus contributing to the large opening of the current deficit.
The Greek economy therefore needs a new development model. Growth must become more extrovert. Regarding demand, growth has to rely more on exports of competitive products and services and less on consumption, as Greece is a small economy and the growth of the domestic demand cannot be continued for a long period of time.
The main reform axis must therefore be the Rural Development. The agricultural sector is one of the key sectors of the Greek economy, with a significant contribution to the domestic production, higher than in most EU Member States. However, its contribution to the national GDP has been falling in recent years, with a much higher rate compared to the EU. Moreover, the value of the production emanates at a percentage of 74% from plant production and 26% from livestock production.
Greece therefore needs to redeploy its productivity forces in the coming years, as to achieve a higher internal added value in order to ensure higher employment and living standards and greater international competitiveness.
Concerning this area, our Group has managed to promote its products mainly in the markets of the EU Members States for more than 95% of its turnover.
Business Vision - Future Objectives
First of all, the group must be able to function as a team. To achieve this, producers - members have a key role to play. Otherwise it is more of a club than a business.
Our group, operating in a small area, wishes to constitute a lever of support and promotion not only for local producers but also for the goods produced, which bring the very special characteristic that makes them remarkable and unique.
In addition, we seek to keep our business adjusted to consumer requirements and needs and funded on the basis of sound financial criteria.
It should not be neglected that a healthy group of producers can be a strong player in the domestic and international market for agricultural products; nonetheless it continues to operate within a highly competitive and globalized environment.
The globalization of markets and the increasingly pressing competitive conditions, particularly in the food sector, leave little room for autonomous movements of independent farmers or for weak producer’s organizations. Healthy producer’s groups shield the farmers and help to address any modern challenges, since competitiveness and extroversion are the cornerstones of a new economic growth model for Greece.
Protection to Producers
Greek farmers have the advantage of producing high quality products that are preferred by consumers as well as a natural environment that offers great potential for producing a variety of quality agricultural products. Even so, it is necessary to establish an enhanced cooperation on a business-based model to better respond to changing international market conditions.
In order to achieve better organization on this basis, Greek farmers should be properly educated and informed, and more young farmers should enter the agricultural sector.
If cooperatives and collective entrepreneurships in general, constitute a one-way street for farmers in countries such as the USA, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, etc., then in Greece of small and dispersed farms, their necessity should be taken for granted. But what kind of cooperatives do we wish for? Of course, not those whose role is limited to distributing subsidies (they will soon lose their raison d'être). Neither those cooperatives governed by political mechanisms and their main reason of existence is the election of representatives to organizations that will compete for their predominance in politics.
On the contrary, priority should be given to strengthen entrepreneurship and the orientation of farmers / producers to targeted and concerted actions alongside with the State for mid / long-term planning and disengagement from subsidiary support and state aid that will eventually decrease.
In order to achieve this goal, it is required to change the mentality and to be exempted from habits that do not contribute to the development of a healthy entrepreneurship.
Greece, with the climate advantage that presents, should contribute to the improvement of agricultural production and nutrition systems, which in themselves are an indispensable tool for achieving the ultimate goal of ensuring global and healthy nutrition.
This requires the cooperation between private and public sector in Greece, as to become such an investment destination and to compete systematically and effectively with other countries already trying to attract such investment initiatives.
All of these goals, however, presuppose vision, disposition and hard work as to implement them and change our mentality. The present economic crisis, due to the deadlock it created, can become a great opportunity for the reform of the agricultural sector in our country.
All that is needed is for us to want it.