Thursday, November 29, 2007
(Baltimore) A pilot program aimed at providing long term sources of feed for animals while benefitting Greece's devastated environment has been initiated by International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC). IOCC recently completed the distribution of nearly 20 metric tons of forage seed to more than 300 farmers in the wildfire-devastated region of the Peloponnese. More than 37,000 head of livestock will benefit from the forage seed designed specifically for animals living in hot dry climates. The grass will be ready to be eaten by Spring 2008 and will not have to be replanted for at least the next four years. This will prevent soil erosion, one of the chief problems for the Peloponnese in the wake of last summer's wildfires.
IOCC initiated this Phase II program to plant forage seed after consulting with agronomists about the wildfires' long term environmental impact. The fires not only destroyed vegetation but also caused soil erosion. "This forage mixture of seeds is more nutritious for animals than the usual oat and barley planted in this region, and since the seeds only need to be planted once every four years farmers are helping to protect their lands from erosion," says Yiannis Saligkarias, an agronomist for the prefecture of Ileia. "Getting new vegetation to germinate is paramount for the long term success of restoring the Peloponnese's severely damaged ecosystem," says Ioannis Therios, Professor of Agriculture at the University of Thessaloniki.
"This pilot project represents IOCC's move from relief to recovery in its program to aid Greece," says IOCC Director of Operations Matthew Parry. IOCC's Phase I program involved the distribution of emergency supplies of animal feed to hundreds of farmers in the villages of the prefecture of Ileia. IOCC was able to expand this program to farmers in neighboring Arcadia with a new grant in early November from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. IOCC's total relief and recovery program for Greece has exceeded $500,000 from donors representing various Orthodox jurisdictions from throughout the United States.
Both Phase I and Phase II programs by IOCC will allow Greek farmers to sustain their livestock, and to remain in the region with the ability to maintain production of food and dairy products.
IOCC, founded in 1992 as the official humanitarian aid agency of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), has implemented over $250 million in relief and development programs in 33 countries around the world.
To help in providing emergency relief, call IOCC's donation hotline toll-free at 1-877-803-4622, make a gift on-line at www.iocc.org, or mail a check or money order payable to "IOCC" and write "Greece Wildfires" in the memo line to: IOCC, P.O. Box 630225, Baltimore, Md. 21263-0225.
Media calls: Contact Ms. Amal Morcos at 410-243-9820 or (cell) 443-823-3489.Amal Morcos