Greek “white gold” is cultivated on more than 2.5 million acres across the territory.

The reason, of course, is cotton, a crop with tradition in our country, which occupies the 9th-10th place worldwide in production and the 6th-7th place in exports.

The yield in ginned cotton is 110-120 kg/hectare, while the total production of the country in ginned ranges from 270,000 to 300,000 tons or in the crop from 800,000 to 900,000 tons approximately, depending on the cultivated areas and the yield per hectare each year .

The Challenges

There are many challenges facing cotton farming in Greece.

The high cost of production here combined with the small lot and fragmentation of the Greek countryside make growing conditions even more difficult.

“The large increase in energy costs is intensifying the problem and making production costs a thorn in the future sustainability of cotton cultivation,” said the Head of the National Cotton Classification Center of ELGO-DIMITRA, Mohamed Darouse, to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, adding ” The cost of energy also caused significant increases in the prices of agricultural supplies, mainly fertilizers and, to a lesser extent, other agricultural supplies.”

According to him, the second challenge is both the “green agreement” and the environmental requirements arising from the new CAP, such as limiting the use of plant protection products and other preparations such as growth regulators.

In addition, climate change is the third challenge for Greek cotton cultivation. In addition to negative effects on production and quality, it will affect the redistribution of the crop as cotton appears to gradually “move” from Sterea and central Greece to more northern regions, where a lower quality product is produced.

“The most important measure to deal with the problems is the creation of organized collective production schemes (producer groups and organizations) and the strengthening of their role” said the Head of the National Cotton Classification Center and added “The integration of the environmental parameter in the way of cultivation and the introduction of new environmental farming systems, the adoption of which by the producers requires time, training and introduction of the appropriate equipment that the producer does not currently have. The utilization and rational use of new technology in crop management and finally the rational training of producers, not in the traditional way that is done today”.

The “bet” according to him should not be to increase the volume of production, but to maintain it at the current level and produce a more competitive product, environmental, quality, standardized and certified.

“Greece should look for new alternative markets”

Until 2022, 65%-75% of production was mainly destined for Turkey and Egypt, which makes Greek cotton “captive” of the conditions prevailing in these two countries.

“Greece should look for new alternative markets, with the aim of better and wider positioning of the product in the international markets” said Mr. Darause, noting that “but this requires better quality-standardization-certification, mainly a better color box, with fewer foreign material”.

The goal, as he said, should be the production of a product with European specifications, environmental, quality, standardized and certified, while at the same time making better use of the advantages of Greek cotton.

According to what Mr. Darause said to the Athenian-Macedonian News Agency “for the development of the Branch, the goal should be the production of a product with European specifications, environmental, quality, standardized and certified, while at the same time making better use of the advantages of Greek cotton. An advantage of Greek cotton is that we may be the only country that still produces pure non-genetically modified cotton without contamination.”

In addition, the production of large batches of uniform standardized product, name and origin. “Achieving this requires well-organized collective production schemes, which will produce a product specific to the market and/or the end user. The state should give incentives to collective schemes and to the training of producers for the specific purpose of production. The aim is to direct the producer to produce for comparative market uses and not only for the subsidy and to actively join the chain from beginning to end” he underlined

“We are implementing three programs for the development of Greek cotton cultivation”

In 2016 the National Cotton Center launched three important programs on behalf of the IOB. The first concerns the classification of the quality of Greek cotton at country and regional level, the second concerns the study of the quality characteristics of the varieties grown in Greece and the third concerns the control of foreign materials in the cotton crop. The final result of these projects is the National Quality File.

As the Head of the Center said, “in 2023, it is carrying out a new program concerning the management of cotton cultivation using new technology to reduce inputs and environmental impacts, but also the training of producers. All these programs in collaboration with DOB, PEEEB and the seed production companies have brought Greek cotton to a better position”.