ATHENS, Greece—As Greeks struggle to find a way through their country’s financial morass, one trend at least in the younger demographic is to abandon life in the city in favor of a less complicated agrarian existence.
According to recent research conducted by Greece’s Organization of Agricultural Vocational Education Training and Employment, or DIMITRA, 1.5 million Greeks between the ages of 25 and 44 want to give up urban life and move to the countryside. Nearly half of respondents said they wanted to restart life as farmers.
The trend has been applauded by Kostas Skandalidis, the country’s minister for rural development and food.
“I think that this situation presents a big opportunity for Greece, it is a must for us to make the best out of it,” Skandalidis said.
“There is huge potential among those who return to the countryside; they are educated, they have degrees and have done postgraduate studies. This means that they don’t return to be laborers, but for social entrepreneurship, that is, to start up a business,” the minister added.
Giannis Zarikos and Athina Taxtatzi, both 29, used to live in Greece’s capital of Athens. They decided a year and a half ago to leave Athens and now live on the island of Andros where they have taken up beekeeping.
They say they left the city in search of a better quality of life, without the job insecurity and stress associated with the economic situation that is so prevalent in Athens. Greece’s unemployment rate is currently 21.8 percent.
“You can gain many things from beekeeping. If you work hard you can achieve a good income and keep a steady job,” Zarikos said.
His girlfriend Taxtatzi says that it was worth it for her to go through all the difficulties to move to the countryside. “I believe this way you can live more humanly and understand why you have come into this world,” she said.
Despite having a good climate and fertile soil to grow high quality agricultural products, Greece has never managed to develop its farming industry and has a weak export market.
“In the agricultural sector, Greece has an enormous comparative advantage. I believe that the sector of agricultural production and food will be the most, crucial productive sector for Greece for the next decades. It is the one that will get the country out of this crisis,” said Minister Skanadalidis.
With additional reporting by New Tang Dynasty Television.