At a loss about what to do with thousands of tons of produce that remains undelivered due to a Russian food embargo, Greek peach and nectarine producers must wait until Friday when European Commission officials are expected to draft a plan for compensating farmers producing those fruits in Greece and other EU countries hit by the ban.
An announcement issued by the EC on Monday, approving 125 million euros for perishable fruit and vegetables, caused some consternation as the list of goods it included did not refer to peaches or nectarines – which Greek producers export to Russia in significant quantities – but to many other products ranging from apples and pears to tomatoes, carrots and cabbages.
Sources in Brussels told Kathimerini that two plans are to be detailed on Friday – one relating to farmers producing the aforementioned goods and the second to producers of peaches and nectarines in Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
Meanwhile Greek peach farmers say they are being offered extremely low prices for their produce as thousands of tons sit in refrigerators, or remain uncollected in orchards, following a flurry of canceled orders by Russian firms. Costas Tampakiaris, the head of Naoussa’s agricultural cooperative, told Kathimerini that local producers were receiving offers of 30 cents a kilogram for peaches, some 20 cents below the usual rate. “They’re circling us like vultures,” he said.
He and other producers are pushing for a meeting with Agricultural Development Minister Giorgos Karasmanis in a bid to find a solution for the surplus fruit. Farmers are anxious to reach an arrangement for the free distribution of the fruit to avoid creating a glut in the market that would push prices down further. Some fruit has already gone to hospitals and army barracks and the remainder could go to prisons and charities.
The European agriculture and rural development commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, has suggested that a 5 percent limit on the amount of agricultural produce that can be distributed for free to be raised to 10 percent to help farmers reduce the surplus that has resulted from the Russian ban.