11th European Society for Environmental History Conference, 4-8 July, 2022, University of Bristol, UK

Entangling the nexus of water with food production: Seeds, fertilizers and water management in post-war Greece

Alexakis Sotiris and Arapostathis Stathis
The post-war agricultural policies in Greece are characterized by the increase of inputs in the production which configured both the food production and the environment in specific ways. The expansion of irrigated areas, the increasing use of fertilizers and the introduction of new seed varieties, were processes that took place simultaneously in the context of intensification of production. The study provides a historical reconstruction of the entangled history of water management infrastructures, inorganic fertilizers and new seed varieties, from the end of WWII to the present day. The period includes the Greek “Green Revolution”, the decades after country’s entry in the EU, and finally the current challenges in addressing environmental concerns. Considering the relevant public policies as the result of the dynamics of socio-material systems, our aim is to reveal the visions and technological priorities of the entangled socio-technical regimes that coproduced the production models. Firstly, we reveal the visions of both foreign and local experts and farmers related to water management. Infrastructures and technologies for the management of water started to be planned and constructed since the 1960s. Then, we study the social and political legitimacy of fertilization, which involves both the scientific community and industrial interests. We also study the research priorities for the development and introduction of new seed varieties in the context of the intensification of inputs. Thus, we show that the entanglement of the three socio-technical regimes coproduced the development patterns that dominated in the relevant public policies. Since the 1980s, however, the production intensification has raised a range of environmental concerns. In the end, therefore, we study the responses of socio-technical networks to the above concerns, through the visions of rational management and environmental sustainability. The paper is based on interviews, along with research in corporate and state archives and popular press.
The conference website can be found here.