Association of Pastoral Farmers of Epirus
The Association of Pastoral Farmers of Epirus (A.P.F.E.) is a nonprofit organization, founded recently. A.P.F.E. has member’s farmers who raise local farm animals utilizing the mountain pastures of Epirus for a certain period of the year. In these areas livestock farming is very often the only agricultural activity, so it contributes significantly to the local economy.
The initiative for the foundation of A.P.F.E. was the outcome of an INTERREG IIIC project on the pastoral farming in the Mediterranean region. In Greece the project was carried out by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the National Agricultural Research Foundation, in collaboration with the Animal Genetic Improvement Center of Ioannina of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food and pastoral farmers of Epirus. In this project participated also farmers from Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
Aim of the Association is to promote activities for:
- The continuation of the mountainous livestock farming and the improvement of the quality of living of its members.
- The conservation and utilization of native breeds, the promotion of quality products and the protection of the environment.
- The collaboration with local, national and European bodies
- The application of appropriate national and European projects and the incorporation of innovative activities in the pastoral farming for the improvement of the labor organization.
Although pastoral farming is a traditional activity in Mediterranean, it can also become a modern tool for the sustainable development of rural areas. The products of pastoral farming (dairy products and meat) are appreciated for their high quality, taste and safety. The differentiation of the products of pastoral farming from mass production and their certification and promotion to the market as special and local products will contribute to the creation of strong links between the consumers and montane territories, its economy, culture and tradition.
Also pastoral farming has a significant environmental role as it ensures the natural conservation of less fertile areas, the protection of landscape and ecosystems, the water quality and the challenging of the corrosion as consequence from floods, snowfalls and fires. The natural pastures have been preserved for centuries due to sheep and goat breeding, whose grazing habits contributed to the preservation of the biodiversity of flora and the removal of the dry plant material resulting to the protection of Mediterranean lands from fires.
The Association of Transhumance Farmers of Epirus already counts 300 members from different areas of Epirus. Eleven (11) of them breed animals of indigenous sheep breeds with small population (Katsika Ioanninon, Kalarrytiki). The Association has applied to the call of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food (2007 – 2013 “Alexandros Baltatzis”) for the conservation of farm animal genetic resources.