'We are trying to find alternative markets but it is not easy'
Published 27/05/2015 | 02:30
Driving into the wide concrete yard at Velventos Co-op is like driving into any co-op yard in Ireland - except for the sunshine.
Dust covered cars and rickety jeeps wheel in for supplies and farmers stop to chat pushing their caps back on their heads and leaning back against their vehicles with their arms folded.
Some make their way to the functional canteen for a sweet Greek coffee or even a cold beer.
The co-op, located in the Kozani area of Greek Macedonia, has 400 farmer members supplying peaches, nectarines, pears and some apples.
Manager Athanasios Kotzakolios explains that the co-op takes in 10,000 tons of peaches from its growers along with around 3,000 tons of other fruits.
The fruit farms are family owned and, similar to Irish family farms, are small and dispersed.
"The fruit is packed on the farm, the only human hand to touch it is the farmer," explains Athanasios.