The Greek banking system has to urgently improve its unimpressive record in funding primary sector investments, Agriculture Development & Food Minister Spilios Livanos said on Wednesday, during the annual AgriBusiness International Forum in Athens.
“You should assume your responsibilities,” Livanos said during the Q&A session after his address, adding that “it would be a historic mistake if the banking system does not understand that the economy’s future lies in agronutrition.”
Elaborating further, he said “it is unacceptable to have set up a guarantee fund with 480 million euros available – 80 million of which is the share of the state – and see only 10 million euros disbursed so far.” What was needed, he said, was “to open up much faster, trust business, trust the sector and truly invest in production.” For production to rise, “we must provide the opportunities to people to produce more products.”
The forum was also addressed by European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski, who said the EU was facing a ‘feeding crisis’ for the second year running. In terms of domestic results, the commissioner noted that “Greece’s production is 3.5% greater than the EU” and that the Greek primary sector produces the lowest greenhouse gas emissions, while farmers use fewer fertilizers.
The forum, which runs to Thursday, highlights “Food & Farming systems’ green and digital transition” and includes 50 speakers from Greece and abroad. Speakers represent leading businesses, financial services, innovative farmers, policy makers, research and academia.