Every time we talk about "rural policy”, we actually refer to the economic policy that aims at developing the agricultural sector.
The objective of agricultural policy is the rural development and the ensuring, on the one hand, of a minimum living standard for the agricultural community and, on the other hand, of an adequate amount of food at reasonable prices, especially for city inhabitants, as well as raw materials for the industry sector.
This is what is taught to the first-year students of all economic universities worldwide. It is clear that if this is the content of the agricultural policy, one does not need more information to understand that the agricultural policy in Greece has failed, or, to put it in the current economical terms....it has gone bankrupt!
Rural development, in our region at least, is not noted. And if we take stock of agricultural policy applied over the last twenty years, without leveling the estimates, we will come to quite disappointing conclusions. Indeed, if we exclude the things that we, the farmers, under our cooperatives and our own forces and without government support, were able to create, we will not identify the state’s positive intervention no matter how hard we try.
Instead, we will see that major projects that were built years ago were left to depreciation, gains were canceled, positive development situations for the producers and the rural community, simply ceased to exist.
To mention one or two examples of this situation, we will only remind you that there was a research center for the farmer’s needs, conducting crop developing experiments, studies and whatever they needed to properly direct the farmer. There were agriculture schools. Education centers where the farmer learned useful things. There was a reliable irrigation network, organizations in full bloom. There were rural roads even though there were not many cars. These services actually helped the farmers, they didn't stand in the farmers’ way like they do now…
To a large extent the Union of Agrinio has developed actions and services that cover these gaps. However, the Union cannot and doesn't want to replace the state; neither pursues to assume a role that does not fit to its function.
Investments for members-farmers are still being made by the Union. The projects, however, are in state’s responsibility to be carried out. As well as the agricultural policy, whether it is good or bad, successful or not, is designed and implemented by the respective government. Farmers and their collective bodies have the responsibility to propose. And, of course, reliably reclaim what they proposed.
Canals, however, for the farmers to irrigate, must be built by the state. Agricultural policy without projects, is no policy. It is perhaps management, evasion or idleness.
Agricultural policy means practical and effective participation and support of any healthy agro-pastoral investment. It means improving the infrastructures’ strategy, where the farmer really needs it. Agricultural policy cannot be done only with words...Neither without the farmers themselves...
Those who have tried to impose a policy from above, only supervising their achievements, quickly realized the size of their failure.
So let us avoid making the same mistakes.