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General News

New Agriculture New Generation CEO Effie Lazaridou on the Greek Agrifood Sector

NEW YORK – Effie Lazaridou, CEO of New Agriculture New Generation (NANG), spoke with The National Herald about the organization which she has led since it began in 2018 and which aims to create employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people in the agrifood industry in Greece.

TNH: What has the experience been like leading NANG from its inception? 

Effie Lazaridou: Serving New Agriculture New Generation has been a most rewarding journey and a period of hard meaningful work, evolution, and tangible results.

Effie Lazaridou, CEO of New Agriculture New Generation. Photo: Courtesy of New Agriculture New Generation

We started off as a pioneering program in the summer of 2018, with the aim to revitalize the agrifood sector of Greece, supported by the critical initiative and founding grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the strategic partnership with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and all those pursuing the advancement of the agrifood sector in Greece. Our focus has been on training and supporting the new generation of agrifood professionals in rural areas: farmers, agronomists, small family food businesses, and agritourism entrepreneurs.

Today, almost six years later, we are co-shaping the future of the sector, making agriculture and food systems a career of choice for young people. We are a small team of experts who have acquired unique know-how in what we do and are passionately dedicated to delivering results.

New Agriculture New Generation aims to revitalize the agrifood sector in Greece with a variety of efforts including educational programs. Photo: Courtesy of New Agriculture New Generation

Acknowledged as a European best practice with multiple awards and international, catalytic partnerships with major ecosystem actors such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Citi Foundation and others, we transfer know-how, create synergies and stand up for the livelihood of rural communities.

TNH: What has been the most challenging aspect of your work?

EL: Humanity urgently needs to respond to the greatest challenge of our time: to ensure the production of safe and adequate food to nourish the increasing global population, while combating the climate crisis; and safeguarding the survival of local communities. We feel that this amplifies our shared responsibility for the future. To this end we are always reaching for new ways to support professionals in the agrifood sector and their transition towards sustainable practices. Also, we are consistently working towards identifying rising needs across the sector – especially following natural disasters- developing partnerships, and securing resources for delivering meaningful programs.

New Agriculture New Generation aims to revitalize the agrifood sector in Greece with a variety of efforts including educational programs. Photo: Courtesy of New Agriculture New Generation

TNH: What has been the most rewarding aspect?

EL: This is an easy answer. There is no greater reward than observing our beneficiaries embrace our programs, flourish, and develop sustainable businesses, actively contributing to the livelihood of Greece’s rural areas. Witnessing farmers and agrifood professionals prosper, establish sustainable production units, creating jobs, and engage in exports gives us an unparalleled sense of fulfilment.

And this is being beautifully documented in our impact assessments: more than 30,000 beneficiaries, 35.7 million euros overall footprint in the Greek economy and 3.9 leverage effect, contributing substantially to the transformation of the Greek Agrifood sector.

TNH: Where is the future of NANG heading in the next five years?

EL: We are committed to continue contributing to the transformation of the Greek Agrifood sector and supporting the livelihood of rural communities.

Greece has unique potential for developing its agrifood sector and can become a reference point for the entire eastern Mediterranean basin. At the same time, however, Greece must ensure the production of nutritious food, secure its food security, and adopt strategies to address the climate crisis.

New Agriculture New Generation aims to revitalize the agrifood sector in Greece with a variety of efforts including a mastic tree program utilizing the latest technology. Photo: Courtesy of New Agriculture New Generation

We have developed specific methodologies and invest in selected domains of the agrifood value chain, where we can achieve significant results and create substantial impact. We continue to develop collaborations both in Greece and internationally, aiming to attain the scale and capacity to further offer effective programs that will strategically transform the agrifood sector of the country.

TNH: How can we support NANG’s efforts and the Agrifood system in Greece?

EL: The acknowledgement and dissemination of our work by your readers would be a tremendous support! Moving forward, as a non-profit organization, we undoubtedly face a persistent need to identify resources and funding for our programs, despite the unwavering support by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s founding grant. Every financial contribution, regardless of its size, empowers us to make a tangible difference in supporting the agrifood sector and, in turn, the Greek regional landscape.

We are, of course, always open to forming strategic collaborations and partnerships with organizations and companies seeking to leverage our expertise in developing innovative programs aligned with our areas of focus. It is worth emphasizing that we extend a permanent invitation to scientists and professionals within the agrifood domain to submit their recommendations or proposals for initiatives they believe will contribute to our objectives.

More information is available online: https://www.generationag.org/en.

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