ARTOLIO partner Kiki Zinoviadou, from Thessaloniki, Greece: "There are limited opportunities for farmers in Greece to receive funding and assistance to improve their business."
Every agronomist that belongs to the ARTOLIO project is an expert in the management of the olive groves. They are distributed throughout all to and work closely with the farmers to achieve the highest quality possible in their extra virgin olive oil, as well as providing the proper counseling for the cultivation process. Kiki Zinoviadou from the Thessaloniki region, Greece, is one of them.
Incorporated to the project since the very beginning, Kiki has been working hand in hand with the Thessaloniki farmers and millers of the ARTOLIO consortium. She oversees the training, consultancy in issues related to olive oil quality, nutritional value of olive oil, sensory analysis of olive oil and agronomic practices in the field. The aim is to have a sustainable environment and a way of cultivating the olive groves that goes on par with modern technology and innovation. Along with her college at the Perrotis College, they often discuss the best agricultural practices, best processing practices and the initiation of an experiment regarding the effect of storage time and packaging type on the properties of olive oil.
“In general, there is some progress, and the farmers are willing to learn. However, it is not always easy since they are used to working in a certain a way and some of them are more resistant to change,” she adds on the topic of their progress along the project. In a sector as traditional as this one, change often comes in small doses, and the local market that supports these small producers is often traced with traditional practices. To overcome these challenges, Kiki organized four different info sessions on different topics, ranging from pruning to irrigation to marketing and e-commerce. The most notorious event, however, was ARTOLIO Thessaloniki, held last month. It was a success in the sense that it provided more insight in the situation of the farmers and allowed many of them to meet, all from different regions. They shared knowledge and tradition, trying to help each other and strengthen their sense of community, the Mediterranean community of ARTOLIO, that is. “They are all asking for continuation of the project in order to have more time to apply the gained knowledge and improve their business. They also want to initiate more collaboration with each other and to learn the best practices that are applied in other countries.”
Currently, what concerns Kiki is the time left in the project. Continuing ARTOLIO should be of upmost priority once the project is over since, due to unforeseen weather conditions, last year was really bad for the production of extra virgin olive oil in Greece, and the yield was really low. Therefore, if the project is not extended the farmers will only have one good cultivation period (2021-2022) that has been monitored under ARTOLIO’s guidance.
As a food Scientist Kiki was always interested about the olive sector. However, she considered specializing in extra virgin olive oil after her first training in sensory evaluation. “This is why I joined the project. The whole idea is so unique and so inspiring… There are limited opportunities for farmers in Greece to receive funding and assistance to improve their business. In that respect ARTOLIO offers them a unique opportunity by aiming to guide them holistically in issues related to the primary production, processing as well as sales and, marketing and branding.”