The Greek Ministry of Agriculture pledged approximately €126 million ($148 million) of combined Greek and European Union funds for the country’s olive oil producers as an emergency measure to counterbalance financial losses incurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around 145,000 beneficiaries of the program are expected to receive an amount of €300 ($352) per hectare of olive grove, should the aid plan receive approval from the European Commission.
The olive oil was sector was singled out due to its importance to local agricultural societies, the ministry said in an announcement, serving “as a national-strategic product for the primary sector and the cohesion of the social fabric of the rural areas in terms of employment, the value of production and exports.”
“[Olive oil] has been particularly affected by the pandemic in various ways (supply disruptions, cross-border and domestic restrictions on product movement, restaurant closures, declining tourism, etc.), resulting in a significant reduction in its selling price,” the ministry’s announcement added.
The National Interprofessional Association of Olive Oil of Greece (EDOE), welcomed the aid initiative, nevertheless noting that support at all levels is required for the Greek olive oil sector to progress.
“The recognition of the significance of the sector to the national economy and the need to support the producers for the damages caused by the recent adverse weather phenomena and the decrease in consumption caused by the pandemic is, once again, of paramount importance,” EDOE said.
“We also expect the ministry to put forward the issues discussed during our last meeting with the minister, Mr Voridis, on June 15, [which aim to] educate olive oil producers on good farming practices, establish an advisory committee of experts in the field, track the produced and traded quantities of olive oil, define a national olive oil policy, among others,” the association added.
All preliminary procedures of the aid scheme are expected to be completed by the end of the year, while the program is likely to be expanded to include producers of table olives as well.
By Costas Vasilopoulos Olive Oil Times