Greece – Short food supply chains

The concept of short food chains, in which intermediaries between farmers and consumers are  removed, is part of the CAP 2014-2020.

At EU level, different forms of short food supply chains (SFSCs) have developed in the last years. Advocates say SFSCs are not just about selling local cheap products as they also have positive spill-over effects on rural societies, the environment and agrotourism.

In Greece there developed a movement without intermediaries that created direct links between local farmers and consumers. Short food supply chains became popular in Greece following the economic crisis, which forced smallholders and consumers to seek alternative ways of getting food at affordable prices.

There was therefore an uproar when the mayor of Kozani, a city in northern Greece, banned “movement without intermediaries“. Local authorities declared that the farmers’ market, which has been in place for the last five years, breached existing legislation.

The mayor of Kozani is known to be a passionate environmentalist with progressive ideas. The decision to close the farmers’ market has left people scratching their heads and has been attacked for being a  “gift” to the large agricultural distribution companies in the region.

Municipality sources explained that according to the existing legislation, these producers should ask for a license to operate and follow a specific authorization process. According to current law, the producers should create non-profit organizations in order to be able to operate and, at the same time, prove via an annual report that their activities are based on solidarity towards those in need.

In the meantime, the Greek Parliament recently passed a law on agrotourism, a parameter of short food supply chains, especially for high-quality products. One of the main activities to promote agrotourism is the purchase of agricultural products directly from the producer.

But the mayor said the movement was against existing legislation. Indeed, while the ministry of agriculture has put forward draft legislation on short food supply chains, the law has not yet been approved by parliament.

The moral of the story of Kozani seems to be that even farmers’ markets must be subject to certain rules. It is the job of governments to create an environment in which farmers who sell their produce directly are not treated like criminals.