Food Expo Athens March 2022: LIVINGAGRO outcomes and results generate great interest from the olive oil producers

Photos by Lisa Radinovsky, CIHEAM MAICh

On March 12-14, 2022, Dr. Lisa Radinovsky represented MAICh at the Food Expo in Athens, sharing information about LIVINGAGRO’s two Living Labs with Greek stakeholders in the olive oil, olive, dairy, and meat sectors. She distributed 90 Greek-language flyers that introduce the project, highlighting the Catalogue of innovations and the forthcoming ICT platform, and added 19 new companies to MAICh’s LIVINGAGRO mailing list.

Receiving encouraging feedback about the importance of sustainable farming and biodiversity, which are central to LIVINGAGRO’s goals, Radinovsky discussed future field visits with several company representatives from the Peloponnese and Crete. During some of her conversations, it became evident that LIVINGAGRO’s e-learning modules would be most useful to Greek farmers if they are translated into Greek, so MAICh will explore that possibility.

Ioanna Diamanti, co-owner of the award-winning Pellas Nature olive oil company, was particularly impressed by LIVINGAGRO’s dedication to sustainability, so she plans to share the project’s flyer with several of the farmers she works with. Diamanti has been observing the effects of climate change with great concern, as cherries ripen earlier and an olive variety previously only suitable for southern Greece begins producing more olives farther north.  

Diamanti considers the maintenance of biodiversity absolutely essential and believes “the new generation understands this. I hope they will be able to do something. You may have profit and keep the world healthy; it just needs a lot of effort. If you don’t care, you go like this,” gesturing sharply downward. On the other hand, she emphasizes, more biodiversity is better: “there’s no question about it.” The co-owner of Oleosophia olive oil company, Marianna Devetzoglou, is also concerned about the health of the planet and its inhabitants. Her company is minimizing the use of plastic in their packaging, as well as taking advantage of the increasing demand for nutritious food during the pandemic, since “olive oil is one of the most nutritious foods.”

Part of a back-to-the-land trend that started during the Greek economic crisis, Devetzoglou turned from work directly related to her physics and chemistry degrees to olive oil production and tasting. In her view, the many highly educated young people returning to their roots in rural Greece bring a new perspective to the Greek olive oil sector that includes an openness to innovation. Devetzoglou demonstrated this openness herself by meeting with a number of LIVINGAGRO innovators after the second B2B meeting in Greece. Considering the possibility of adopting some of the innovations she learned about through the project, she also looks forward to a field visit from MAICh’s LIVINGAGRO team.