Supporting women entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector has become a central focus of strategic planning on a national and Community level, through targeted financing instruments and programmes. Figures collected by the agriculture ministry show that the number of women, especially younger women, who are interested in the primary sector is steadily increasing, with 140 women's cooperatives now active in Greece.

Talking to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA), the head of the special service for managing the 214-2020 Rural Development Programme, Nikos Manetas, said that keeping women in rural areas was the key to preserving rural populations.

"Equal opportunities of the two genders is directly linked with keeping the population in rural areas, demographically strengthening the countryside and better exploitation of productive factors," he added.

Citing figures presented at a seminar held in the Acropolis Museum last week, he noted that nearly eight in 10 new women farmers are involved in agriculture, 17 pct with livestock breeding and 4 pct with beekeeping.

Among the tools to support them, he added, were programmes for young farmers, improvement plans and measures to support investments for the processing of agricultural products and for collaborative efforts. He noted that 30 pct of the 16,000 applications for the New Farmers programme were submitted by women, who also accounted for 25 pct of applications under the 'Improvement Plans' programme to modernise agricultural and livestock breeding concerns.

Manetas also singled out the work done by women's cooperatives, which were linked to processing, light industry, craftwork and agritourism. He noted that women's participation in activities promoting local agricultural goods and linking them with tourism, culture, the primary sector and the environment was especially high, accounting for 60 pct of the total.