Unprecedented wildfires during the summer, followed by massive floods, have dealt Greek agriculture a severe blow, with analysts estimating that food prices will soon skyrocket.
This week, the Greek government will ask the European Commission to step in and provide “significant” financial assistance to cope with the disastrous implications of floods, following a letter sent by the prime minister.
Several villages on the Thessalian Plain have been completely devastated by floods, as well as crops and livestock.
According to initial estimates, approximately 450,000 acres were flooded, 97% of which was cultivated land, causing concern in terms of food sufficiency.
Before the floods, Greece experienced a severe heatwave with prolonged drought and spring hail. All these resulted in decreased fruit and vegetable production, which led to significant price increases during the summer.
“This blow [floods] will be the final one for primary production in the wider area of Thessaly. Almost 20,000 families live in our municipality alone, with 90% of the population engaged in agriculture,” Kostas Tzelas, president of a local agricultural association, told EFSYN journal.
The economy of Thessaly is based on the primary sector, and several professions depend directly or indirectly on agricultural production. The Thessalian Plain contributes EUR8 billion to the Greek GDP.
Although the ultimate damage cannot be projected yet, as thousands of acres are still underwater, analysts suggest that apples and pears will be seriously impacted, leading to price hikes and increased imports.
OT economy news website reported that cotton, which tops Greece’s exports, and corn have been literally lost. In addition, a lot of costly agricultural equipment has been destroyed.
Meanwhile, the disaster of livestock sector adds to the government’s headaches as cattle in Thessaly make up 19% of the country’s total.
Still, it’s too early to estimate how many thousands of animals drowned in the deadly “Daniel” flooding.
The images of dead animals floating caused shock, and the authorities are seeking ways to bury them to prevent a “public health bomb” from exploding.
“We will claim significant financial support, every available financial resource to restore Thessaly to its previous state”, Agriculture Minister Lefteris Avgenakis said.
(Sarantis Michalopoulos EURACTIV.com)
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