Author: Andreas Vavvos (University of Crete)
Editor: Miranda García (AEIDL)
Youth engagement is an important goal for MOVING partners. To the extent that the University of Crete, that coordinates MOVING work in the Region of Crete (Greece), organised its second workshop on how to attract young people living in the mountainous villages of Rethymno and revitalise those places.
Remember that the first discussion, which took place in early summer and gathered 10 people, cast doubt on the contribution of the carob flour value chain to the region’s resilience and sustainability. Participants stressed the need to re-establish the Anogeia Agricultural Cooperative, inactive since 2010, design locally coupled value chains and innovations for the sustainability of agri-food systems, and promote well-thought-out policies.
On 5 August 2022, a total of 9 participants attended the workshop held in the mountain agro-silvo pastoral village of Selli, in the Rethymno region. Seven young people between 15 and 29 and two adults over 40 were the ones involved in the discussion focused on the value chain of carob flour.
They expressed their views on carob pod production and processing into flour and other by-products. They noted that carob tree planting increased in their area because several farmers benefited from community aid schemes for forestry measures in agriculture (Council Regulation (EEC) No 2080/92). However, carob pod production has not increased commensurate with the acres and number of trees planted due to a lack of support from agronomists and the Agricultural Directorates.
According to participants, even though EU subsidies have brought comfort and stability to the region, they have also brought dependency. This agro-silvo-pastoral village is putting all its effort into becoming an attractive place to live, but, despite the aid received, the village still lacks the necessary infrastructure, including roads, public transport, water, and a sewage system. This discourages young people from living in the village and from developing agribusiness.
Alongside these issues, attendees pointed out that there is insufficient communication and support from authorities to inform young farmers about programming. In addition, local villagers also lack someone that provides them with know-how on farming practices for crops, in this case, for carob.
From their point of view, it is crucial to establish new smaller producer groups of 5-10 people due to the dissolution of existing farmer cooperatives. Otherwise, the growth and prosperity of these people in the future will not be as expected. Everyone in the workshop agreed with this statement except a young sheep-husbandry farmer resident of Selli. This person was the only optimist in the event. He expressed that he will invest in his occupation and he will do his utmost to maintain his livelihood even if difficulties arise in the future.