47th Annual Meeting of ICOHTEC (Eindhoven, July 13-19, 2020)

Agrochemicals, Extractions and Natural Resources Management in the Greek Agri-food industry, 1920-2000

Stathis Arapostathis and Sotiris Alexakis

The paper’s aim and scope are to provide a historical reconstruction of the entangled history of agrochemicals, raw materials drawn from extraction activities and water management in the Greek Agri-food industry since 1920 and until 2000. The paper has three relevant objectives that inform its main aim. Firstly, to unravel the visions and technological promises relevant to the intensification of the use of agrochemicals and its linkage to developmental policies prioritize economies of scales and industrial patterns of agriculture. Major engineers, scientists and industrialists played important role in the making of the visions that would drive the development patterns and dominate relevant public policies. Secondly, to show the importance of flows of raw materials and policies of extractivism in relation to minerals that were important and necessary for agrochemical construction. The extraction of lignite and pyrite became major priorities for local industrial interests since the interwar period. The extraction activities of minerals by both private concerns and state corporations were linked both for securing energy and the primary sources for the production of agrochemicals (fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides). The emphasis on the role of native natural resources that were linked with the industrial policies of the agrochemical industries and with discourses of both the character and the future of the agri-food industry. Our third objective is to unfold the linkage of the intensive use of agrochemicals that was part and parcel of the emergence of the model of industrial agriculture in the post-WWII Greece, with the management of water. We study the development of large-scale dams and irrigation channels in the Greek provinces that started to be planned and constructed since the 1960s. The paper is a tale of three entangled sociotechnical regimes that involve agriculture politics and policies, politics of natural commons and politics of scale in technological infrastructures. The paper covers eighty years that comprised of two dictatorships, several democratic governments and a world war. Yet our emphasis is on the history of entangled sociotechnical regimes thus we unravel the interrelation between regimes as well as the materialities that configure the interrelations define sociotechnical transformations and the environment. We study the way that the flow of extracted minerals was coproduced with industrial priorities in the agrochemical industries, with developmental patterns in the agri-food industry and the management of water. The paper is based on research in published sources, corporate and state archives as well as technical and popular press.


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