EU Horticulture General Assembly reflects on challenges and prospects for agriculture across Europe

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As part of its General Assembly meeting, AREFLH (the Assembly of Horticultural Regions) organized a public conference in Central Macedonia to discuss the changes underway in Europe regarding the CAP and the new strategic horizon for the agricultural sector.

From left to right, François Lafitte (President of APFeLSO), Richard Schouten (Director of DPA), Cristian Maretti (Vice-President of Gruppo VI.VA), Elli Tisforou (President of the Cooperative Coordination Committee at COGECA), Christos Giannakakis (Vice-President of the National Union of Agrarian Cooperatives of Greece) and Simona Caselli (President of AREFLH).

Three representatives from the host region opened the event. Georgios Kefalas, Vice-Governor, and Bane Prelevic, Vice-Governor for External Relations, spoke of the “need for exchange and discussion to build the future of the sector in our regions.” Katerina Zografou, Vice-Governor of the regional unit of Chalkidiki, stressed that in this troubled context, “organizations like AREFLH are more important than ever to enable farmers to speak with one voice with the European institutions.”

The first part of the conference was devoted to the challenges facing European producers. Luc Berlottier from the European Commission’s DG AGRI also presented a progress report on sectoral intervention in the fruit and vegetable sector. He highlighted the trend towards a greater concentration of European production in a decreasing number of producer organizations.

His intervention initiated a discussion with the participants to clarify and better understand the Commission’s position. The first round table, consisting of six European experts in agricultural production, outlined the background to the strategic dialogue launched by the Commission: the forthcoming elections, protests across Europe, climate change, and new market regulations. The speakers emphasized the need for transition periods for farmers, as well as realistic policies on the part of the relevant institutions.

Speakers also called on the sector to be proactive in the face of climate change, pointing out that the changes in society’s attitudes to food and the sustainability of food products cannot be ignored.

The second major theme of the public conference, held on the eve of International Water Day (22 March), was the management of this vital resource. The speakers presented their current projects and actions to preserve water in European territories.

The representatives of the regions of Valencia (Spain) and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (France) detailed their support for producers in their efforts to use water sparingly, thanks to irrigation robotics and constant attention to farmers’ needs. Simona Caselli, President of AREFLH, declared that “we need to plan the use of water and invest in the modernization of infrastructures as well as in operational programs.” The subject will be taken up again in the coming AREFLH water working group.

Simona Caselli closed the day, with the next Annual General Meeting to be held in March 2025 in the Spanish region of Valencia.

For more information:
Laetitia Forget
Tel.: +33 (0) 5 33 89 10 19
Email: [email protected]

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