The perfect match
by Danae Bersi, Content Creator, New Agriculture for a New Generation

Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation - Talking to Dimitris Firbas, beneficiary of the program

Talking to Dimitris Firbas, beneficiary of the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation implemented by the New Agriculture for a New Generation program, the first thing one sees is that he really loves what he does.

Dimitris is 26 years old and comes from Xanthi. His family has 50 acres there and so, Dimitris has been dealing with them since he was a child. "I remember that together with my parents, we went to the acres and did everything together. "Slowly I started to do more and more and finally I decided to choose this as my field of work".

And that’s what he did, and with great success I might add. Thus, he received his degree in Management of Agri-Environmental Systems from Perrotis College of the American School of Agriculture, specializing in Precision Agriculture and is currently beginning his master's program in Sustainable Agriculture and Organic Farming at the same university.

"Precision agriculture is rising during these recent years, Greek farmers see that it is something necessary," Dimitris tells me. But what exactly is Precision agriculture? Dimitris explains to me that, in essence, precision agriculture aims to optimize inputs to maximize production. "We use the latest technology available in Greece, such as drones and GPS systems, so that we can be more accurate and operate in a targeted way so that the farmer does not waste time and money on things that have no value."

After graduating, Dimitris went to the USA for about 2 years, at the urging of his professor at Perrotis College, Mr. Konstantinos Rotsios. There, he had the opportunity to do his internship on a greenhouse in a nursery in Massachusetts, where he spent 14 months. He describes this practice as a unique experience. He then attended classes at the University of Minnesota for 6 months. "My way of thinking and the way I perceive many things has changed. I have gained substantial professional experience", Dimitris tells me.

After his return in 2017, Dimitris started looking for a job in Greece and at the same time, he started to work more intensively with the family fields.

Participating in the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation

In early January 2020, Dimitris discovered through a search on the website of the New Agriculture for a New Generation, the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation program. It was immediately something that caught his attention and he decided to participate.

Besides, his participation in the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation would mean his return to Thessaloniki, which he loves very much, so he would not miss this opportunity for anything in the world!

"Participating in the Regeneration Academy, I met people from the agri-food sector who I would probably spend many years meeting because most of them were already junior executives in companies, with a lot of experience", Dimitris tells me and adds "talking to them, I was able to identify with the Greek reality and gain knowledge, as until then, I had not worked in Greece ".

He tells me that the seminars were highly informative in his opinion but also helpful in creating a complete picture, with professionals from across the industry. "Although the majority of the courses were done online because of the covid-19 pandemic, their quality was the same," he adds.

Upon completion of the training, participants in the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation get in touch with major companies in the agri-food industry. The program chose which companies the beneficiaries could work with, and in Dimitri’s case, looks like it was a match made in heaven. "I was lucky because in the first interview organized by New Agriculture for a New Generation, the second interviewer was the Human Resources Manager of the Brewery of Macedonia Thrace," Dimitris tells me.  

From that moment at the beginning of May, when the interview for his recruitment took place, he realized that his goals are like those of the Brewery of Macedonia Thrace, or as it is widely known "Vergina". 2 weeks after the interview, at the end of May, Dimitris was hired by the Brewery of Macedonia Thrace.

As he enthusiastically tells me, “My beliefs and my mentality fit perfectly with those of Vergina company. Now, in Vergina we agronomists are dealing with the raw material, barley. Therefore, we encounter a lot of farmers engaged in contract farming, something that Vergina first brought to Greece. " He adds that "our goal is to educate farmers. We act as agricultural advisors and guide the producer throughout the agricultural period, so that we can ensure the best possible raw material and the farmers can benefit with the highest prices and the reduction of their expenses ".

Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation - connecting young professionals with companies

Dimitris told me that he feels that the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation of the New Agriculture for a New Generation program has acted as a catalyst in his professional development. "I'm not sure that if I had not participated in the program, I would have been given the opportunity to work for a company like Vergina." He also told me that he thinks that even if he had found a job in his field, it could hardly be something that would offer him a personal fulfillment, something he has achieved through his employment in Vergina.

For him it is very important that the Regeneration Academy for Food Innovation and New Agriculture for a New Generation bring young people in contact with companies. "Companies now know what they are asking for but young people do not know how to offer it, so the Regeneration Academy helps them discover their skills and promote them properly," he says.

Closing our discussion, Dimitris tells me proudly that "Through all this journey but also through my employment now in Vergina, I have gained experience, not only as an agronomist but also as a human being".