Wellbeing of Farmers: Social Wellbeing
Key Challenges: Low farm income (market vulnerability), Access to land/ high land prices, Lack of appreciation/support for female farmers, Lack of generational renewal on farm
Key Target Groups: Young farmers, Female farmers
Farm Size: Small/Family, Medium
The energy crisis that has plagued Europe in the last year has sharply increased energy prices for households and businesses. This has resulted in the difficulty of meeting their energy needs, purely due to the high cost. In addition raising prices of energy raise even more the costs of farming which leads to higher anxiety and stress levels to farmers not being able to cope.
Implementing the framework governing the Energy Cooperatives has been and remains one of the best solutions. In this context, the Energy Cooperatives was established in Central Greece, one of the largest Energy Cooperatives in the country.
Its members are mainly farmers of the wider area of Fthiotida. An important role in the establishment of the Energy Cooperative played the experience that existed in the Agricultural Cooperative Stevia Hellas around issues of organization and operation of cooperative schemes.
Tackle the energy poverty a challenge most pressing and related to the economic and social sustainability of rural areas and wellbeing of farmers. High value agricultural land Is changing uses, grazing areas are become energy fields and farmers are left bowling alone in an energy market that can’t control-influence.
It is also identified as a key topic due to the upcoming legal framework (Law 4513/2018 of the Greek Parliament on Energy Communities) that is characterized as a decisive step towards a more democratic, decentralized energy system, which increasingly utilizes Renewable Energy Sources and energy saving technologies and offers a window of opportunity to farmers to change their practices and adapt to the challenges, raise their income and address energy poverty effectively.
The social challenge of impoverishment is advocated in the case of Greece according to the data (per capita GDP in rural areas was at the 55.5% of the average ration for the whole EU and that the average income of rural population is one of the lowest in the EU, only higher from Hungary and Romania).
At national level a 31.8% of the total population (2018) is at risk of poverty (in EU 21.8%) whereas in rural areas this gets even worse reaching 35.2%, (in EU 23.5%). More specifically within this social challenge of poverty we will focus on energy poverty.
Albeit no common definition of energy poverty exists we hereby refer to the inability of the farm to cover its energy needs and to the challenges that rural households face towards affordable energy living conditions. Overall, the phenomenon of energy poverty is recognized as a distinct type of poverty affected by multiple factors.
- Establishment of the Energy Cooperative.
- Development of PV projects in order to produce energy for the members of the Energy Cooperative.
- Implement training for the members of the Energy Cooperative in many areas, including methods and ways to improve their wellbeing.
Main Outcome of the activity
Reducing prices of energy will reduce even more the costs of farming which leads to less anxiety and stress levels to farmers.
At the same time farmers will save more money to spend on extra activities that will help them reach better wellbeing levels.
Farmers also see the high demand for land (land-grabbing) for alternative forms of energy, to pose a risk at the viability of their farms and their farming profession; taking over the high value agricultural land by non-farmers and even nonlocal residents is causing great conflict between interested parties and additional stress to farmers.
Energy efficiency, lower energy (fuel) costs, knowledge, saving technologies, synergies at local level
Main Practical Recommendations
A decentralized-democratic energy system that on the one hand minimizes the costs for current farms and on the other hand offers opportunities for the creation of new farms and businesses that will keep young people in the area or even attract new entrants to farming by creating sustainable and decent vacancies for the unemployed etc
Key Stakeholders Involved
- Christos Stamatis, CEO Stevia Hellas Coop
- Stevia Hellas Coop’s team
- Dimitris Kitsikopoulos, Electra Energy Project Manager, RESCoop, Belgium
Most Innovative Aspects of the Solution
One of the most innovative aspects of our solution could be the business model of production and consumption of the local energy. In addition new linkages at local level towards a democratized energy and the reinvesting parts of the profits in the community.
Law 4513/2018 of the Greek Parliament on Energy Communities