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EU Agriculture Commissioner Assesses Flood-Affected Regions in Greece

Flooded cotton crops in Thessaly.
Flooded cotton crops in Thessaly. Credit: Twitter / Janusz Wojciechowski

The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Janusz Wojciechowski, traveled to Greece on October 5 to visit areas affected by the recent devastating floods.

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

Commissioner Wojciechowski was welcomed by the Greek Minister of Rural Development and Food, Lefteris Avgenakis. During his 2-day visit, the EU official met farmers and rural communities whose lives were directly impacted by the floods.

The extent of damage to agriculture and forestry has caused deep concern, hence the aim of Wojciechowski’s engagement with local authorities and stakeholders was to assess what tools of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) can be deployed to support Greece.

Beneath the flooded fields of Thessaly, are family businesses, vital incomes, and essential supplies of food. I want to assure local farmers and rural communities that all possible EU resources shall be deployed, swiftly and effectively, to support your recovery,” the Commissioner stated on Twitter. 

Dramatic situation of farmers in Thessaly after the floods

Among the affected crops visited by the EU Commissioner were Thessaly’s famed cotton fields, 70 percentage of whose production is estimated to have been damaged by the floods.

The Commissioner described the situation of the local farmers as “dramatic.”

“Thousands of hectares of unharvested corn, cotton, under water or in mud. The farmer Mr. Panayiotis, risking his own life, saved several hundred goats and sheep, but another number drowned. We are preparing EU aid,” Wojciechowski wrote on Twitter.

EU commissioner visits parts of Greece effected by floods and talks with the locals
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wojciechowski meets farmers affected by floods in Thessaly, central Greece. Credit: Twitter / Janusz Wojciechowski

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.

EU aid for flood-affected areas in Greece

In the aftermath of the destruction caused by the floods, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had promised to Greece up to €2.25 billion ($2.4 billion) in EU aid.

Following a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Strasbourg, von der Leyen said the commission would be “quick and flexible” and mobilise all the resources that could be deployed to help areas devastated by the floods.

If all member-states agree to top up the bloc’s solidarity fund, the European Union could also make up to 400 million euros available to Greece next year, she added.

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