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General News

New Agriculture New Generation Event at the Consulate General of Greece in New York

NEW YORK – New Agriculture New Generation (NANG) presented ‘Seeds of Change Ensuring the Future Vitality of the Agrifood Economy of Greece’ on May 29 at the Consulate General of Greece in New York. NANG is a non-profit organization based in Greece that is moving the traditional agriculture sector into the future by developing entrepreneurship, supporting innovation, and building capacity.

NANG CEO Effie Lazaridou spoke about the organization and highlighted the impressive impact it has made since it was founded in 2018.

Consul General of Greece in New York Dinos Konstantinou gave the welcoming remarks at the event which aimed to raise awareness for NANG and its valuable efforts. He thanked everyone for attending and noted that NANG aims to revitalize the agrifood sector in Greece by leveraging technology, education, and sustainability, while also empowering young people, fostering rural development and promoting Greece’s rich agricultural heritage.

New Agriculture New Generation (NANG) presented ‘Seeds of Change Ensuring the Future Vitality of the Agrifood Economy of Greece’ on May 29 at the Consulate General of Greece in New York. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Among those present were representatives from NANG’s founding donor the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), technical and strategic advisor Rutgers University, and from Citi Foundation.

NANG CEO Effie Lazaridou, in her remarks also thanked all those present, noting that “we have come to celebrate New Agriculture New Generation’s journey these last five, six years, that is to the benefit of the Greek agrifood sector and tries to transform a traditional sector of the economy and move it into the future to the benefit of younger generations and the survival and livelihood of rural communities in Greece.”

“I first met Bob Goodman, the team from Rutgers and the team from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in 2017,” Lazaridou continued. “We were still just coming out of the crisis in Greece and myself I was committed to undertake a very important senior position leading a major organization in Greece, however, this acquaintance in 2017 has completely changed my career.”

“I was overwhelmed by the passion, the vision, the integrity, the dedication that team had towards promoting a challenging project that at the time seemed just a vision but would have the potential to completely transform what agrifood stands for in Greece,” Lazaridou noted. “In the course of the following months, I found myself dedicated and committed to that cause as well and I accepted the position of setting up and leading the team in Greece as part of the Rutgers New Agriculture New Generation Initiative.”
“In 2018, the official announcement of the initiative was made and the implementation started under the critical support of the SNF, the partnership with Rutgers and also the assistance and support of many, many other organizations in Greece,” Lazaridou said. “Today, we are almost six years old, we have become a nonprofit, independent organization based in Greece with a tangible, impactful journey.”

“We have more than 30,000 beneficiaries to date and financial footprint that is almost 36 million euros, we have been twice acknowledged as a best practice in Europe… we are now proud partners of the Food and Agricultural organization of the United Nations and specifically the General Commission for Fisheries in the Mediterranean,” she noted. “We have endless, optimistic success stories from our beneficiaries around Greece and we have much more to offer the Greek agrifood sector.”

Left to right: Marianthi Vlachos, Christiana Vasilas, and Vanessa Diamataris were among those present for the New Agriculture New Generation event on May 29. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

“Everything happens through collaboration so we transfer knowledge from the academic and research institutions, we work with companies, with farmers, with small businesses in rural areas and we try to convey a new vision for what agrifood can stand for in Greece,” Lazaridou said. “This is a matter of food security of national security we are talking about the climate crisis, we ave seen what the climate crisis can do in Greece, we had wildfires, floods, rural communities are under threat, the population will certainly lead to desertification, we have to support these communities we have to support younger generations staying in their birthplaces, we have to support those people that choose the agrifood sector as a career for the future, we have to support them to stay and create and thrive in their birthplaces. Technology is key if we want to talk about sustainable practices and to that direction everybody is working with passion and with dedication.”

A video presentation highlighted NANG’s efforts and received a warm round of applause from the audience.

Lazaridou expressed gratitude to NANG’s founding donor, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and acknowledged the critical partnership with Rutgers and other international partners such as the Citi Foundation, noting that “we have an amazing program that we run with them in rural areas… the first results of which we will announce in a few months.”

She also expressed gratitude to her team including Ilias Georgantas, Financial Director of the organization, and mentioned that everyone would be receiving a gift bag on the way out that included informational brochures about NANG and samples of some excellent products from Greece.

Dr. Lia Papathomas, Director of Operations for Rutgers’ New Agriculture for a New Generation Program, spoke on behalf of Dr. Robert M. Goodman, Executive Dean Emeritus and University Distinguished Professor in Ecology, Evolution, and Natural Resources, who could not attend in person. Dr. Papathomas noted what an honor it was “to speak to, celebrate, and be together to learn about the many accomplishments” of the organization. She then read Dr. Goodman’s remarks which pointed out that “this whole endeavor was initially set in motion at the invitation of the SNF in 2013 as part of their ‘Recharging the Youth’ initiative, a response to the financial crisis in Greece.”

The remarks included a quote from SNF co-President Andreas Dracopoulos who said that “the starting point of this landmark initiative was our desire to help as many young people as possible with employment opportunities within Greece’s agricultural and food sectors but the grant is so much more than just an employment vehicle, it has the potential we hope to jumpstart one of the country’s most important and strategic assets with unlimited growth potential, agriculture.”

Laura Lawson, Interim Executive Dean of Rutgers’ School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, Executive Dean – Agriculture and Natural Resources, Interim Executive Director of the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, also spoke at the event, noting that “the best partnerships are mutually beneficial” and that “Rutgers is a land grant university in the state of New Jersey which means we have a mission to do this kind of work and we’ve been doing it since the 1860s, we think we know what we’re doing, we do it pretty well, and yet sometimes it’s really important to get a fresh eye and to see things from a new perspective and what would do if we could start it over again and what might be more appropriate in the 21st century versus something that started back in 1860, and this project really allowed that kind of thinking to happen.”

Lawson said: “What does it mean to get young people engaged in agriculture? It’s not their grandfather’s farm anymore, and agriculture is not just crop production, it is so many other things. One of the things Effie has been so amazing with is the development of a leadership program in agriculture and we’ve had a leadership program at Rutgers, but we learned from what she was doing… Thank you.”

Lazaridou also thanked John Stavros, co-owner-distributor of Terra Medi, Elea, Kyma, for the food and wine at the event.

SNF Senior Program Officer Roula Siklas was also among those present and spoke with The National Herald about NANG: “We are proud to have supported this effort from the very beginning, starting with the kernel of an idea many years ago, and to have seen it through from proof of concept to the full-fledged force in people’s lives it is today. We’re delighted that we’re beginning to see real-world economic and, perhaps more importantly, social impact. Powered by transatlantic knowledge exchange, it’s ignited the creative energy of young entrepreneurs, bolstered an approach for stemming the outflux of people and jobs from rural areas, and helped broaden perceptions of what agriculture is and who it’s for.”

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

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