THE COOPERATIVE

The Agricultural Cooperative of Rachi Pieria “AGIOS LOUKAS” was founded in 1978 to initially operate as an administrative committee whose object was to create a cherry grove for its members. In cooperation with the local departments of the Prefecture in 1979-80, the Cooperative launched a pilot project involving the planting of a cherries grove of 350 thousand square meters (approx. 86.5 acres), which won the Cooperative a prize by the Ministry of Agriculture. This pilot project was very successful and the entire area became known on account of the new and dynamic product, the product’s quality and the cooperative nature of the particular cultivation. Until 1990 the entire annual crop – 300 to 450 tons of cherries – was allocated to exports in Europe, which improved to the country’s foreign trade balance.

In 1991 the Agricultural Cooperative of “AGIOS LOUKAS” at Rachi Pieria was officially incorporated as an entity of ad hoc joint agricultural organization. In 1994-95 and in the framework of an investment plan under Leader I, the Cooperative built a sorting/refrigeration unit of 600 sq. meters which featured two (2) refrigeration chambers for a total storage capacity of 200 tons. Today the A.C of Rachi Pieria “AGIOS LOUKAS” numbers over 100 members while its cherry grove has expanded to 1,100 thousand sq. meters (approx. 271.8 acres).

In 2007 the Cooperative was granted preliminary recognition as a Producers’ Organization with the designation P.O. “AGIOS LOUKAS” of Rachi Pieria with the aim to carry out a 4-year investment plan of 3,7 million Euros. The investment involves the expansion of the building installations, the modernization of the cooling chambers, the installation of a Hydrocooler, and the installation of an electronic sorting line per size and color of cherries (GP Graders/Australia). The capacity of this equipment is 4 tons per hour. Also, the investment plan included the replacement of old cherry trees and the installation of a modern system for the protection of the trees from torrential rain. The new investment not only maintained but also increased the quality of the product, offered new capabilities for standardization, improved the organization of production, increased the Cooperative’s turnover and made this blessed region popular with visitors in the broader area.

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