A major exhibition of Organic and Ecological Products opened in Kotzia Square in the center of Athens yesterday, organized by the European Organization of Strategic Planning in conjunction with the Agricultural Development and Food Ministry. The organizers hope the event will be repeated every year and that more and more sales points for organic products will open in Greece. This particular exhibition is an indication of an increasing focus by officialdom on organic farming issues, coming after news last week that nearly 3,000 farmers had applied for new state subsidies being made available to organic farmers. The European Organization of Strategic Planning (EOSP), based in Athens but covering the European Union, is a local government, non-profit organization aimed at promoting the European Union member states’ «economic, social and cultural development, local government and assisting institutions and activities working toward decentralization and regional growth.» «Many municipalities are farming areas,» said EOSP’s general director, Ioannis Kakkos, yesterday. «Our aim is to promote not only the protection of people’s health but the European Commission’s effort to promote organic farming,» he told Kathimerini English Edition. Kakkos said local government organizations had begun to become involved in organic farming through development and inter-municipal ventures, although these were still in the early stages. «We hope that over the next three years there will be more activities in this sector,» he said, emphasizing the importance of exhibitions such as this and others being held as part of Organic Farming Week (see box). «I would like to see exhibitions being held every day,» said Kakkos. «All events such as ours and the others being held this week are valuable.» This is EOSP’s second annual exhibition, and is expected to attract large crowds – the organizers are hoping for over 150,000 people – given the increasing number of people adding organic products to their shopping list as a way of leading healthier lives. Entrance is free of charge. As part of the exhibition, a conference is being held today at the town hall, which is right on Kotzia Square, on «Organic Farming – an Alternative Proposal for Agriculture» (9 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. to 8 p.m.), one of many events until Sunday including talks, food tastings and competitions. Last year, there were 100 exhibitors. This year there are almost as many, representing producers of certified fresh organic produce, manufacturers, farmers, environmental organizations, shops selling organic and traditional products, honey producers, and publishers of books and magazines on the subject. «This year we have broadened the range of the the exhibits to include small handcrafts made from organically produced materials, even musical instruments, although the emphasis is still on food,» said Maria Michailidou, who is in charge of organizing the exhibition. Today’s conference includes talks by experts from universities, prefectural government, agronomists and dieticians on everything from organic exports and imports to organic fertilizers, livestock fodder production, the management of ecosystems, diet and health, product quality and plant protection.