Production and Trade of Currants - Founders Share 1905 (KORINTHIAN RAISINS)

Production and Trade of Currants - Founders Share 1905 (KORINTHIAN RAISINS)

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Production and Trade of Currants - Founders Share 1905 (KORINTHIAN RAISINS)
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Beautifully engraved certificate from the Production and Trade of Currants issued in 1905. This historic document has an ornate border around it with a vignette of an allegorical man. This item has the printed signatures of the company;s officals and is over 95 years old. CURRANTS (KORINTHIAN RAISINS) Raisins include two very distinct products namely currants and sultanas. Currants are black grapes that are dried under the sun and consumed mainly as dried fruits in food and sweets or alone. Sultanas are grapes of a white-blonde colour which are dried, treated and then consumed either as food additives or mixed with other dried fruits. Black raisins (currants) are also called Korinthian raisins due to the fact that they are mainly cultivated in the Gulf of the city of Korinthos and the surrounding areas, and, being a highly differentiated product, are unique in Europe and the world. There is not an exactly matching product and similar products are only produced in California but do not have the same black colour and quality. Sultans are not a unique product of Greece and the main producing countries are Turkey and the U.S. Black raisins (Korinthian currants) have a very long tradition in Greece and have been the subject of agricultural policy measures since the start of the century. Political environment Since the late 19th century, currant plantations were rapidly expanding especially from small holdings. Raisins offered a way of maximising economic returns through intensive forms of cultivation. Cereals, which formed 41% of the value of agricultural production in 1845 fell to 38% in 1860 and 10 years after the land distribution of 1881 were only 23.7% of total agricultural value. On the other hand, currant plantations occupied 43,500 ha in 1880 and 67,000 ha in 1891 due to increased exports. Besides the traditional English market, other markets opened to Greek currants. French vineyards were destroyed by phylloxera and in a few years time the French market absorbed half the annual Greek exports. After the replacement of the French vineyards, protective measures were voted for by the French and currant exports to this market were reduced to almost nothing. Andreades (1906), outlined the dramatic fall in currant prices in the international market. Whilst in May 1893 the lowest price at the London market was 21s per cwt, in November of the same year the price was 6s. The charges for duties, taxes and freight amounted to 8s6d and the loss was 2s6d per cwt. The currant market’s crash developed into a crisis because of the internal structural deficiencies in Greek agriculture following the land distribution. The Greek government had either to attempt and develop the consumption of currants or to restrict their production (Burlumi, 1899). Naturally, the first was difficult because of limited opportunities for exports and the over-supply of the internal market. A better idea seemed to be to restrict production, by both decreasing the area and the amount of currants produced by shifting to extensive methods of cultivation in the short term, and in the long term encourage the re-orientation of production towards commodities with better demand and future potential. Under the pressure from the numerous endangered farmers, the Greek government adopted the first retention (market intervention) mechanism in its agricultural history. The government retained every year a percentage of the production in order to support prices. In 1899, the retention amount was fixed at 15% of the production for all regions even if their currant varieties were not affected by the same way. In 1902, a surplus of 73,000,000 lb. was produced after deducting the amount retained and exported and the same situation occurred in 1903 and 1904. Slowly, farmers shifted to the cultivation of new crops or abandoned agriculture. In 1951, the area under raisins (Korinthian and sultans) was 41,000 ha as opposed to 67,000 ha in 1891 for half the cultivated area of Greece at that time. The currant crisis is very important for Greek agriculture. The period prior to the crisis, the Greek state attempted to establish the family farm as the dominant type and nucleus of Greek agriculture with consecutive land reforms, appropriate legislation and expropriations. The crisis showed how vulnerable was a farming type (family farm) that was not based on a competitive and efficient agriculture. It also showed that the state was not willing to undertake political cost and adopt structural measures instead of market intervention mechanisms. However, the result was the same but occurred in a slower pace. In modern years, currants followed the regime applied for grapes and wine in Greek agriculture. Since the country’s accession to the EU in 1981, raisins were supported under the Fruits and Vegetables Common Organisation of the Market. In the course of the 1990/91 -1993/94 marketing years, the production aid system for dried grapes (including raisins, sultans and muscatel) was gradually replaced by a system of fixed aid per hectare of harvested specialised area. The maximum guaranteed area for raisin, sultana and muscatel type grapes was fixed to 53,000 ha. If the specialised areas used for dried grape production exceed the maximum guaranteed area, aid per hectare is reduced. Storage aid for processed dried grape products is also provided for by the CAP. Measures to improve quality have been introduced (Regulation 399/94). This Regulation includes for sultanas: Occupational training measures, Measures to improve transport and storage conditions, Measures for the development of more efficient technical processes and for Currants: Occupational training measures, Purchase of plastic crates, purchase of lifting equipment and for both products a programme assessment study. Physical and natural environment Currants are cultivated in the north-west of the Peloponnese, in the prefecture of Messinia and in two of the Ionian Islands. Sultanas are cultivated mainly in the island of Crete and less in the north-west of the Peloponnese. Map 1 shows the areas


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