NEWS

Achaia: Farmers hit

«The rain, wind, cold and snow have destroyed us. We’re in really bad shape. We’re on the verge of despair. We don’t know what to do.» One of about 26,000 farmers in western Achaia described the situation of farmers after successive waves of foul weather caused untold damage to potato, olive, wheat, oat, fruit and vegetable crops. We found Alekos Thanopoulos on his farm with a tractor, trying to bring his land back to life. «There hasn’t been such bad weather for the past 20 years,» he says. «Nearly all the winter potato crop was destroyed. The way the weather is, we don’t know what will happen to the spring crop. And the greenhouse crops also suffered serious damage.» As to what the future will bring, he doesn’t conceal his frustration: «We’ve lost confidence. There’s no money, we have ongoing financial obligations, and interest rates on loans from the Agricultural Bank are high.» «We can’t survive this bad weather,» says Costas Linardos. «We are supposedly insured by ELGA [a state fund which compensates farmers for crop losses], but we don’t know when we’ll get compensation. We’re just picking up the pieces after the damage done last year.» Bad weather has also affected stock farmers. Grazing plants have withered, animals can’t find food and milk production has fallen dramatically.