Anyone who’s been to Greece and tasted the tomatoes knows how good they are, but the country – as it has with other superior products such as olive oil – has failed to capitalize on one of its best agricultural assets, Time magazine has reported.
Time noted that despite the Mediterranean country’s innate advantages in sun and soil that Greece can’t even keep up with chilly Holland in producing tomatoes. The magazine noted there are “existing problems and enormous differences” over productivity and efficiency among many countries of the monetary union.
When comparing the tomato production and export of the Mediterranean countries (Greece, Italy and Spain, which have traditionally been the largest European producers and exporters of the product) it’s Holland which has managed through the use of technology and good organization to become Europe’s largest tomato exporter.
The report prompted the European south to imitate Holland in order to become more competitive. The Dutch producers use high-tech greenhouses, electronic temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide control systems. This is why they have managed to produce 70 pounds of tomatoes per square meter, at the same time when a producer from southern Europe produces at most seven pounds, 10 times less.
As for Greece, it is noted that within the last five years, some producers made isolated attempts to invest in Dutch technology (reference to Wonderplant program initiated in Thessaloniki), but it was said that this is just an exception and that technologically advanced greenhouses in Greece constitute only 1.6% of the greenhouses used.
Greek agricultural production is 44% lower than the EU average, while the labor-cost is twice as well as that despite the fact that the rural area used in Greece over tomato production is 10 times bigger than that one of Holland, Greeks export hardly any fresh tomatoes, but canned tomato products.
The article states that if Greece introduces more Dutch technology and benefits from its abundant sun, then it is very possible to return to the large and lucrative market of tomatoes.