The Gaia Action Plan is an initiative by Delta which supports sustainable development and, specifically, the Greek dairy industry. It includes research and education actions, support techniques, as well as making use of Greek farming for the production of animal feed.
DELTA’s relationship with animal farmers.
DELTA has been part of the Greek dairy industry since 1952. Having played a vital role in cow farming in Greece, the company continues to support Greek producers and contributes to the sustainability of milk-producing animal farming by creating innovative, top-quality, products of high nutritional value.
DELTA is the largest purchaser of cow milk produced by Greek dairy farmers, absorbing one-fifth of the country’s production. The company also has the country’s most extensive milk collection and transportation network, spanning from Thrace to the Peloponnese.
The animal farmers with whom we collaborate are mostly family operations with extensive experience in milk production. Over the years, we have built a relationship based on mutual trust which, combined with our personnel’s scientific and technical expertise, has allowed us to contribute to the sustainable development of Greece’s milk-producing primary sector.
In addition to offering technical support to animal farmers, we also develop activities that help them to adopt the cultivation of crops which have high nutritional value as animal feed. We also train animal farmers in sustainable farming practices, the efficient use of crops, as well as animal welfare. This ensures the production of high-quality milk and promotes the well-being of livestock.
Gaia Action Plan: DELTA’s contribution to the primary sector’s sustainable development.
Since 2012, in cooperation with the Agricultural University of Athens and other research institutions, we’ve been implementing the Gaia Action Plan in an effort to connect academic knowledge with animal farming practices. This plan is a DELTA initiative which focuses on sustainable development and supports the Greek milk-producing industry through research, education and technical support, as well as making use of Greek farming for the production of livestock feed.
The plan aims to:
-Develop research through academic and research entities, in segments which can be beneficial to sustainable animal farming.
-Spread technical know-how
-Provide technical support to producers.
EUROFEED, a subsidiary of DELTA which produces animal feed, greatly contributes to the education and technical support of producers. This unit takes active part in offering technical know-how and direction on issues such as proper nutrition and the establishment of balanced rations, while ensuring the availability of certified, non-GMO animal feed.
In addition, the Gaia Action Plan, through a wide range of activities, such as educational conferences and seminars, as well as an active media presence, endeavors to keep all interested parties up-to-date. To date, the company has presented the Gaia Action Plan in 23 of the industry’s scientific and information events and conferences.
The Gaia Action Plan’s main pillars:
The implementation of pilot alternative agriculture.
This includes leguminous and other plants that are appropriate for animal feed, which are used for the feeding of milk-producing livestock through properly adjusted rations. This type of crop reinforces sustainable agriculture practices and helps the environment in various ways: it improves the quality of the soil through the addition of nitrogen, it reduces water usage, and it makes winter cultivation and crop rotation much easier. This programme is being implemented in cooperation with the Laboratory of Nutritional Physiology and Feeding of the Agricultural University of Athens, and the Livestock Institute of Giannitsa–Hellenic Agricultural Organization DIMITRA. Since 2012, 11 scientific programmes have been completed.
The implementation of a consultation programme that aims to improve management and feeding farm practices.
In collaboration with scientists from the Laboratory of Nutritional Physiology and Feeding of the Agricultural University of Athens, we keep close track of milk production, animal feeding and reproduction on every farm. This is followed by a report to the producer and the Agricultural University of Athens, which ensures proper animal food rations, guarantees the quality of the milk, and helps to reduce production costs. This has many immediate practical benefits for the producers, while it increases awareness of the importance of maintaining consistency in milk quality.
We have been implementing the Farm Consultation Programme since 2016 and, every year, an increasing number of participating producers discover its many benefits.
The implementation of the Education Programme for farmers and animal farmers.
This programme aims to disseminate modern scientific and technical knowledge which come as a result of research projects and the application of appropriate methodology in animal farming and milk-production. We organise many seminars and meetings all over Greece–in Xanthi, Serres, Imathia, Florina, Thessaly, Ilia, etc.–during which experienced scientists train our farming partners in the areas of animal nutrition, the production of animal feed, animal reproduction and animal welfare.
To date, 19 seminars have been organised, with the participation of over 1,100 farmers and animal farmers.
In 2017, we started an Education Programme for new farmers.
This programme focuses on farmers who have just started their careers in animal farming or are already working in their family’s business, with the aim to improve farm management and sustainability practices. New candidates complete a four-month training period under the auspices of the American Farm School of Thessaloniki–a non-profit education organization with a long tradition in farmer training, which combines theory and practice and emphasizes experiential learning.
To date, we have offered 64 scholarships. In 2019 alone, 20 scholarships were offered to producers in Florina, in an effort to support remote areas which face particular challenges in agriculture.