NEWS

Organic products now being sold over the Internet

As consumer and producer interest in organic products grows, an organic farmers cooperative is planning to begin selling organically raised livestock products over the Internet. Meanwhile, within the first half of this new year, farmers and livestock breeders will have another opportunity to enter organic production programs. Christian duty Several monasteries with farmland have already switched over to organic methods and are selling their products. The Monastery of Chrysopigi in Hania and Toplou Monastery in Siteia, both on the island of Crete, produce organic olive oil and sell it all over the country. According to Theoxeni, a nun at Chrysopigi, organic farming is in line with the Christian faith as it presupposes respect for nature. Members of the Agricultural Livestock Cooperative of the Ionian Islands, most of whom are from the island of Cephalonia, are to begin selling their products – chiefly white cheese and meat – over the Internet shortly. They later plan to add honey and oil to the list of products. Spyros Risiakos, a honey producer, told Kathimerini that the Internet will provide direct contact with consumers and allow for lower prices. White cheese They explain that they produce what is known as «white cheese,» as Cephalonia does not fall with in feta cheese’s zone of appellation of origin, and so does not have the right to produce cheese bearing the name of feta. However, they hope the zone will soon be expanded to allow them to do so. A website, expected to begin operating early in the year, will announce the availability of products. Depending on demand, the products will be delivered to Athens once or twice a month. Distribution of organic products via the Web might be something new for Greece. But in Italy, Austria and other European countries where organic production is more widespread, the Internet is an important channel of communication between producers and consumers. Net cuts middlemen According to Carlotta Faggioli at the Italian agrotourism firm Dulcamara, the Internet provides a means of communicating with consumers and offering lower prices, since it does away with middlemen. Distribution is a major problem given the absence of organized networks, which often contributes to a further rise in prices. In Greece, interest in organic products is growing. Just a few months ago, according to data from the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food, about 2,800 producers joined organic farming programs. This January, the ministry is calling for applications for a program of organic livestock breeding with increased subsidies for breeders. For the first time, subsidies will be available for pig breeders. In May, producers will have another opportunity to apply to join an organic crop production program.