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Greece: Potato movement brings prices down 24%

Usually when an economy shrinks prices drop on falling demand, but this has not yet happened in Greece. Instead there has been a fall in revenues and a rise in the cost of living, leading to an explosive political mix.

However, there has been a drop in prices when it comes to potatoes -24.6% from March last year, an incredible drop in just a year for any commodity. The reason for this is what has come to be known as the potato movement.

The biggest part of the effect was caused by the giving away of more than ten tons of potatoes in Thessaloniki in February, organised by farmers from Nevrokopi.

The farmers were protesting against the import of Egyptian potatoes at a time when they had barns full of their own produce.

After this the farmers were invited to sell their produce at wholesale prices by Pieria Prefecture Voluntary Action Group.

The Pieria group was formed in late 2007, after a series of wildfires devastated Greece's forests, to provide the local fire service with an early warning system. It was already busy creating a free supermarket for the destitute when it heard of the potato handout in Thessaloniki. On February 19, it organised a sale of potatoes to the Katerini public at 25 cents a kilo - one-third of market price.

Days later, the movement spread to Thessaloniki's Aristotelian University. Christos Kamenidis, a professor of agricultural marketing, organised a potato sale on campus with student volunteers. "I was worried that we would [only] sell three or four tonnes. We sold 50 tons on the first day," Kamenidis said.

The sale of cheap produce is not familiar in Thessaloniki and the movement has also spread to Athens and elsewhere.

The potato movement has not gone unchallenged and sorting and packaging centres are now increasing their prices to the producers, to try and force them to put the potatoes up in turn.

Source: www.aljazeera.com


Publication date: 6/12/2012


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