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Agriculture in Greece Devastated by the Deadly Floods

floods Greece a dog and a man sitting o a bench next to a flooded area
Two bodies of missing persons were discovered in Metamorfosi, Karditsa, bringing the total number of officially missing individuals to three. Credit: Amna / Achilleas Chiras

Agriculture in Thessaly, the region regarded as the bread-basket of Greece, has been devastated by the recent floods that left 16 people dead.

Αlmost 70% of cotton crop in Thessaly, Greece is estimated to have been damaged by the floods Dr Mohammed Darawsheh, Senior Researcher at the National Center of Classification and Standardization of Cotton told state-run AMNA.

He estimates that production in the region is expected to be reduced by at least 50-60%, which in turn will affect Greece’s overall cotton production by 15-20%.

Of the 250,000 hectares cultivated throughout the country, approximately 80,000 (32%) are located in Thessaly. Of those 80,000 hectares, approximately 41,000 are cultivated in the regional unit of Karditsa, 27,000 in Larissa, 9,300 in the regional unit of Trikala and approximately 3,700 in Magnesia.

“Severe weather damage finds the cotton crop quite late, due to previous weather conditions, the expert said.

“A large percentage of the bolls have not yet opened, which means that depending on the duration and height of the water covering the crop, in addition to the immediate damage, a large percentage of the bolls will hardly open or it won’t have a normal opening,” he added.

He said that this year, along with the damage from the bad weather, “there will be an additional negative factor which will negatively affect the future of cotton cultivation” in Greece, in combination with the increased production costs, the increased demand that exist in the market and the new Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Approximately 20 ginning plants operate in Thessaly, a large number of which have suffered major damage to their infrastructure and equipment, Dr Darawsheh said. “There may be a big loss in stored ginned cotton from the previous ginning season,” he told AMNA.

Apple crops destroyed after floods in Mt. Pelion, Greece

Farmers on the slopes of Mount Pelion, which overlooks the plain of Thessaly, say they face millions of euros in damage to their apple crops from the flooding.

The village of Zagora at Pelion produces apples that stand out for their exceptional quality, their special sweet taste, their crisp texture, their special aroma and their lush red color. For all these reasons it is a product with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and it is considered one of the best in the world.

Farming union leader Thodoris Georgadakis urged authorities to mend the unpassable roads leading to local orchards where apples await harvesting.

“The cost of the storms could exceed 10 million euros ($10.7 million) for apple farmers alone,” he told The Associated Press. “We expect this harvest to reach 6,500 tons, down from 22,000 on a normal year. That’s only if the roads are mended soon.”

The Daniel storm released a total of 8 billion tons of water on Thessaly in central Greece, Environment and Energy Minister Theodoros Skylakakis said.

He claimed that antiflooding projects in Greece are based on projections of extreme storms happening once in 50 years, but Daniel released an amount of water forecast (ca 6-8 billion tons of water) for a millennium storm, exceeding even that projection.

Daniel generated 3 times the volume of water forecast for a storm occurring every 50 years, he said.

Greece is now assessing the staggering cost of the flooding. Finance Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said the precise sum remains elusive.

“But … we’re talking in the billions (of euros),” he told private Antenna TV, adding that the center-right government is drafting a supplementary state budget of about 600 million euros ($638 million) for this year’s immediate funding needs.

Related: The EU Offers Greece €2.25 Billion to Recover From Deadly Floods

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