Capacity building is not only an issue in Asia or Africa. In Europe, too, farmers often need support in implementing good agricultural practices. That’s why Chrissi Kotonia, Sustainable Agriculture Manager at Bayer, travels all over Greece to spread the word about BayG.A.P.
The participants at the first-ever BayG.A.P. training session in Greece.
Greece is a very diverse country – especially when it comes to its farming conditions. Growing table grapes in Macedonia in the north, for example, requires totally different skill sets and tools than growing tomatoes on Crete in the south. Needless to say, grape and tomato growers – and, in fact, farmers growing any other crop – have unique challenges. One common challenge, though, is the need for certification and to find new market opportunities.
The BayG.A.P. Service Program offers growers and producers training courses that address their particular needs, while also supporting them in implementing good agricultural practices and in the process toward certification. Chrissi Kotonia, Sustainable Agriculture Manager at Bayer in Greece, travels to all corners of the country to align with growers, farming associations, and food companies to make farming both more sustainable and more productive. “By organizing training courses on good agricultural practices, we can support farmers in becoming more professional and help them market their produce worldwide,” said Chrissi Kotonia.
First-ever BayG.A.P. training session in Greece
In spring 2018, together with Pegasus Agrifood Coop, Bayer organized the first BayG.A.P. training course in Greece. More than 15 table grape growers, mostly from the Peloponnese region, attended the training course in Kiato. The session – which took place before the beginning of the high season for the table grape growers – covered topics such as safe use of plant protection products, application technology, integrated pest management, and traceability. “This training will help us produce safe, high-quality food and also protect the environment,” remarked one of the participating farmers.
Later this year – following grape harvest in September – training for the 15-plus farmers will continue with a second session dealing with food safety, irrigation systems, and waste management. “BayG.A.P. is an innovative training program and it’s perfectly adapted to the local needs and circumstances,” said Markos Legas, President of Pegasus Agrifood Coop.
Chrissi Kotonia, Sustainable Agriculture Manager, speaking at last year’s GLOBALG.A.P. Tour Stop in Athens.
BayG.A.P. journey in Greece will continue
“Organizing the first-ever BayG.A.P. training in Greece was a huge milestone for us,” said Chrissi Kotonia. “We’ve already established important relationships and started successful initiatives in Greece, for example with Pegasus and Unilever.” So far, the focus has been mostly on grapes, tomatoes, and stone fruits. “It’s our desire to expand our network and organize training courses focusing on different crops,” she added.
In October 2017, Chrissi Kotonia was invited to speak to 150 people about BayG.A.P. at the GLOBALG.A.P. Tour Stop in Athens. She will continue to travel through Greece and speak at such events as well as face-to-face with growers and all stakeholders of the food value chain – spreading the word about the importance of training in good agricultural practices.
“In addition to the obvious benefits,” said Chrissi Kotonia, “I firmly believe that our training courses allow the farmers to better differentiate themselves – and it gives them confidence.”
These articles might also be of interest:
Sustainable soy production in Brazil
Capacity Building in Europe, Africa, and Asia