HISTORY OF Currants

Rarely has the story of a place so closely be connected with an agricultural product as the region of southwestern Peloponnese with currants.
Cultivation until the liberation (1830) was relatively limited. From the early years of the founding of the modern Greek state, the cultivaton began to take impressive dimensions due to external demand for the product in the European market and especially the English.

Ships full of currants from was leaving from ports of Peloponnese with destination to major markets abroad. Until 1860, land with currants totalled 120,000 to 150,000 acres while in the period 1830 to 1860 the volume of dried currants was tenfold following the corresponding increase in exports.
Over the next two decades, currants became the main export product of the Greek Kingdom.
Around the cultivation and marketing of currants was knitted slowly a network of activities formed a hierarchical pyramid. From the small cultivator, the retailer of the village, to the interim city trader and wholesaler.
The currants required a whole range of jobs. However this booming region thanks to the production and trade of currants often overshadowed.
The first clouds occurred in the 1850s due to the phylloxera epidemic and in 1877, the clouds reappeared with the recession of the English market. The price collapse prevented from the grand opening of the French market in October 1879, which resulted in the fall of French wine because of phylloxera hit French vineyards.
The currants was sought after and the agricultural production was adapted in this favorable situation.
The construction of the railway line and specifically the line Pyrgos-Katakolon, which opened on February 3, 1883 and was the first across Greece, and immediately after the construction of the railway line Piraeus – Kalamata connecting all major cities, testify the bloom and the importance of currants trade.
However the new French vineyards which planted in the meantime, came to fruition, the French market was closed and began the famous raisin crisis that was a catalyst for the local economy and society.
From the golden era were not only but debris, usury flourished, immigration – the only way out for those who could not be absorbed in the local labor market – began and it was massive, the currants mutiny apperared and and shook the areas of currants. The collapse of currants trade had become a fact, had irreparably hurt the local economy and society and had sow panic among residents.
Main cause of raisin crisis of 1890 was the lack of raisin policy. The government tried to counter the crisis by taking various measures including the protection of the production by the policy of retention (separation of the qualities of the best export and store and forward trough the winery and distillery), but the consequences of the crisis was now irreversible.
The need for the disposal of the product, however, was urgent and only way out was now the internal market.
The unsold surplus of currants created  the conditions for the creation of industrial activities of restructuring it. The raisin crisis marks the industrialization of the area and during the last decade of the 19th century begins a process of industrial takeoff by creating numerous wineries and distilleries.

 

Source: skos.gr
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