The ‘Glikokafteri Mpachovou’ pepper is cultivated in the area of Aridaia in the Regional Unit of Pella for the production of red pepper powder since the 19th century. From the early twentieth century until the late 1980s, Almopia paprika played a key role in the local economy. Small processing plants or farmers' cooperatives, later became factories, produced large quantities to meet demand in the domestic and international markets. Several acres were grown in the wider region, but mainly in the villages of Promachi (old name Mpachovo), Orma, Garefi, Loutraki and Voreinos. The farmers cultivated the peppers and followed a traditional technique of dehydration and smoking the fruit and made the paprika with which they spiced their food throughout the year. The surplus of production was sold to local traders and from there through commercial roads led to the markets of the Balkans and Central Europe. The rising value of the product and the ever-increasing demand has prompted many entrepreneurs of the time to invest in its processing and packaging. Large units were organized in the 1960s and 1970s, which exploited the technology of the era and streamlined the process. The time-consuming work of drying and scrubbing was now easier and faster. In the early 1980s, the first signs of a fall in demand began to emerge.
Various types of the ‘Mpachovou’ landrace are grown in Aridaia or Karatzova area. In general, ecotypes of the ‘Mpachovou’ landrace are characterized by medium-growth plants, quite productive (20-30 tonnes/ha), with conical shape, oblong, medium-sized fruit with a sweet or hot pericarp (Bletsos 2012; Dogras 1990). The landrace is medium early and is recommended for field cultivation in the Aridaia area of the Municipality of Almopia for the production of red sweet-hot pepper. ‘Mpachovou’ pepper has much less irrigation requirements than the usual for this crop. Plant protection requirements are low, because the plant has excellent resistance to pathogens and harmful insects. To produce pepper powder, fruits are harvested perfectly mature when they have deep red colour. For raw use in salads or food, the producers usually harvest when the fruit is dark green. The planting density per ha is 20000 to 25000 plants.
Cultivation System: low input conditions.
In Greece the cultivation of pepper for red pepper powder, sweet or spicy, is almost exclusively done in Almopia Municipality. The cultivation of pepper for powder in this region has a history of about 300 years and due to the microclimate of the region it produces pepper of excellent quality in taste and aroma (Samaras et al. 1990). The Municipality of Almopia in the Regional Unit of Pella (Region of Central Macedonia) is located at the northernmost end of Greece. In total it includes 48 villages and settlements.
From the early twentieth century until the late 1980s, many farmers cultivated ‘Mpachovou’ pepper in the wider area of Almopia for the production of ‘paprika’ (red pepper). Although, in the early 1980s, the first signs of a fall in demand began to emerge due to the following reasons: failure to adapt businesses to the times, competition from neighboring and eastern countries, turning local farmers into new crops and finally the total deindustrialization that was taking place at that time in Northern Greece led ‘Mpachovou’ paprika to devaluation. However, ‘Mpachovou’ pepper, even in small quantities, always claimed a share in the Almopia table. In recent years, young farmers in the region have been trying to revive and re-cultivate ‘Mpachovou’ pepper.
Propagation system: Seed, self-pollinationMultiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:
The common pepper is a predominantly self-pollinating plant, but crosses do occur in specific varieties and where presence of insects is high. To gain pure seed from a variety separation distance is needed. Nevertheless, it happens that in the area of production farmers grow the same local variety broadly. Each farmer multiplies his own seed under slightly different agronomic conditions, selecting from good mother plants the best peppers at proper maturity stage.Management plan existence:
The landrace management relies completely on farming activities in the area. Within the framework of the Aegilops Network and with the supervision of its scientific team ‘Mpachovou’ pepper is conserved on farm in collaboration with organic farmers network in northern Greece, especially in Almopia Municipality (Koutis et al. 2016).
Today, the cultivation of pepper to produce ‘Mpachovou’’ pepper (spice) is scattered in many villages of Almopia Municipality. However, the increased demand for local quality products creates the conditions for growing the crop acreage and developing the marketing of the product. Few farmers, also, grow organically and allocate products to the organic niche markets.
Every year, in the village of Garefi, there is an annual festival and local gastronomy events, while in regional exhibitions the product is reappearing.Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):
In 2006 ‘Mpachovou or Karatzovas’ pepper was registered into the catalogue of extensive crops threatened by genetic erosion and funded under Measure 3.8 of Axis 3 ‘Agro-environment measures’ of the Agricultural Development Programme 2000-2006 following the implementation of the Common Ministerial Desicion 620/135644/06-07-2005 (Ministerial Desicion 218151/23-06-2006, Governmental Gazette 823/4-7-2006).
In 2018, an application was made to the Variety Research Institute of the Cultivated Plants of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food for the registration of ‘Glikokafteri Mpachovou’ in the Catalogue of Conservation Varieties according to the EC Recommendation 2008/62/EU of the 20th June 2008 (L 162)’.
AEGILOPS NGO is supporting on farm conservation of the landrace ‘Glikokafteri Mpachovou’. AEGILOPS mission, among others is to conserve heritage varieties and traditional agricultural knowledge and to restore landrace varieties into contemporary agricultural practice in ways that benefit community. AEGILOPS is supporting organic farmers' network cultivating the landrace in northern Greece and promote their quality organic products, especially the famous ground pepper.
The Genebank of the Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources (Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER) collaborated with members of AEGILOPS Network for the registration of ‘Glikokafteri Mpachovou’ landrace to the Catalogue of Conservation Varieties.
In the past a work done by the Greek Genebank (Samaras et al, 1990) concerned the evaluation of sweet pepper plant genetic resources consisted of populations and varieties of Almopia Municipality, highlighting the importance of this area for biodiversity and the improvement of industrial peppers. An attempt to create an improved version of the ‘Mpachovou’ pepper variety from the Aridaia Agricultural Research Station is also reported by Bletsos (2012).
Accessions of ‘Glikokafteri Mpachovou’ are kept, under long terms storage conditions in the Genebank of the Institute of Plant Breeding and Genetic Resources of the Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER (Stavropoulos et al, 2006).
Provisions set by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food for the conservation of landraces threaten by genetic erosion, the registration of conservation varieties and the high quality of the product may contribute to on farm conservation in the future.
Case study prepared by Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER, Greece.
Most of the information has been provided by Dr Nikos Stavropoulos and Dr Stelios Samaras, former Curators of the Greek Genebank, NAGREF (currently Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER). Precious technical information was gained from Dr Fotis Bletsos, former Researcher of the Hellenic Agricultural Organization-DEMETER.
- Dogras K (1990) University lessons on vegetable production. Part I. Aristotle University (in greek).
- Koutis K., Vakali Ch, Nathanailidou M, Tsigkanou K, Tsigkou R, Psomoulia E, Kotsakou, T, Ioannidou M, Stavropoulos N (2016) On farm conservation and participatory evaluation-breeding activities on indigenous agrobiodiversity by AEGILOPS non governmental organization. Book of abstracts of the 16th International Conference of the Hellenic Scientific Society of Plant Breeding, Florina, 28-30 Sept. 2016, p 106.
- Samaras S, Stavropoulos N, Zamanis A, Mattheou A (1990). Evaluation of sweet pepper genetic resources for red pepper powder production. Proceedings of Greek national conference in Agricultural Research. Thessaloniki, 5-7 Feb, pp. 733-745 (in greek).
- Stavropoulos N, Gogkas D, Chatziathanassiou A, Zagilis E, Drakopoulos G, Paitaridou D, Trigas P, Thanopoulos R, Koutsomitros S, Perdikaris A, Lourida B, Alesta A (2006). Greece: Second Country Report concerning the state on plant genetic resources for food and agriculture. Hellenic Democracy, Ministry of Rural Development and Food, Athens.