Globalization of our world over the past several decades has driven a huge increase in the global movement of biological material, providing numerous opportunities for the spread of diseases in a relatively short time.
Infectious plant diseases can cause minor damage, while others may cause a huge epidemic capable of destroying an entire crop. In the case of plant viruses, there is no cure for the infected plant, since plants lack a real immune system of the type animals and humans have. Therefore, the most efficient solution to combat the problem is to prevent plants from being infected by applying preventive hygiene measures.
Sounds familiar?! Now, in 2020, most people comprehend this logic as the world faces a critical and challenging period due to the COVID-19 human virus pandemic. As the virus spreads throughout the world, it is affecting and changing our routine life.
Hazera, as a seed company, is heavily invested in research and in the development and production of high-quality varieties. We have acquired knowledge and practices in fighting pests and viruses that may threaten the yields and the quality of our varieties - our products.
In this fight against viruses, it is key to understand that every pathogen has a disease cycle, which is the way the virus infects, reproduces and spreads. This can also be called the epidemiologic triangle.
Epidemiological Triangle: a disease caused by a virus agent is based on a pathogen (virus), a host to infect and the environment providing the conditions to propagate in the host. The virus needs a transportation vector to contaminate new hosts. One of the central disease management strategies is to interrupt the disease cycle. Since our capabilities in managing the environment are limited, we should interfere and break the cycle by taking preventive measures and restricting the spread of the disease.
Knowing your pest, reliable and professional detection methods, good methodology for sampling and monitoring the population and early detection in case of a disease outbreak are important and practical key points in controlled disease management.
This is not the first time that humanity has encountered a devastating pandemic. However, in the past, such outbreaks of disease were generally local or regional epidemics due to limited global transportation and movement of population.
What is a virus?
Virulent, from the Latin virulentus "poisonous", dates back to 1400, and means an "agent that causes an infectious disease". Its first recorded use as an explanation for illness was in 1728, more than 150 years before the discovery of viruses by Dimitrii Ivanovsky in 1892.
Viruses are Obligate intracellular parasites.
Viruses lack the cellular machinery needed for self-reproduction.
Viruses can only replicate by controlling the bio-synthetic machinery of the host cells.
How can implementing a quarantine contribute to stopping the spread of the virus?
Quarantine – a procedure developed during the 14th century to protect coastal cities from disease epidemics. Ships arriving in Venice from infected ports were required to moor in the harbor for 40 days (quaranta giorni) before disembarking, a practice known as quarantine.
Currently, we are all learning the importance of quarantine safety measures and can now appreciate the significant social impact of quarantine restrictions on suspected virus carriers.
The strategy used in the case of plant viruses is very similar. But quarantine in itself is insufficient to fight and defeat epidemics. Avoidance or prevention are the best strategy for plant viruses and are efficient for specific human populations (high risk groups) in the case of human viruses. It is better and more cost effective to make every effort to prevent the virus from entering our fields or greenhouses, in the case of plant viruses, or into countries or communities in the case of human viruses. This can be achieved by three important elements known as MDM.
Measures – use of disinfectants, gloves, coats, masks, coveralls and additional protective means
Discipline – everyone must follow the guidelines and instructions strictly and precisely
Management – the process is led by professionals backed by the full commitment of the top administrative level
Asymptomatic Carrier as a risk factor
The infection by both plant and human viruses can develop and be expressed in the population in various ways.
First, some of the infected plants may express typical, well- known symptoms while others may not express symptoms – because it is still in the early stage of infection or if the reaction is mild, they may even be asymptomatic.
The phenomenon is often called "The Iceberg effect".
These kinds of "undiscovered" infected cases can be sources of contamination for the healthy population and may lead to the acceleration of the epidemic.
As a matter of fact, all the measures implemented in the fight against COVID-19 are very similar to those used against plant viruses, except for the use of masks, since plants do not inhale air into lungs. Contact, survival of the virus on surfaces, clothing and tools - even smartphones - apply in both cases.
Discipline is mandatory and critical to the success of the strategy, along with applying restrictions and hygiene measures. Even one person who does not comply with the restrictions is enough to cause an outbreak and secondary spread of a disease - in both plants and human viruses.
In disease management, prevention is the most efficient strategy
Written by: Dr. David Levy, Plant Pathologist, Hazera
HAZERA: VEGETABLE BREEDING AND VEGETABLE SEEDS
Hazera is a global leader in the seed industry. Hazera brings expertise, commitment and support, combining decades of experience with state-of-the-art technology. Hazera breeds, develops, produces and markets varieties and seeds in a wide range of vegetable crops around the world.
Hazera’s headquarters are situated in Israel and The Netherlands, with subsidiaries in 11 countries and an extensive distribution network providing services in over 100 additional markets. This worldwide presence enables us to be close to our customers. It allows us to offer technical support and to anticipate and respond to local needs by creating varieties that fit specific climates, growing conditions and market requirements.
Hazera is part of the Limagrain Group, an international agri-business based in France. Being a farmers’ cooperative, the Limagrain Group understands the needs of its customers and has grown to become the largest seed company in Europe, specialising in vegetables, field crops and cereal products. Limagrain’s vegetable seed division is the second largest company in the industry.
Iodine is present everywhere, but in only small quantities. Most agricultural top soils and irrigation water contain very low concentrations, and it is often not available for plant uptake. A deficiency of iodine in plants is predicted to cause yield losses, similar to deficiency of any other plant nutrient. For optimal crop production iodine should be supplied to crops at the right dosage. Co-application of iodine with potassium nitrate makes it easy for the farmers to ensure the right amount of iodine in the nutrient solution and prevents excess uptake of iodine in leaves or fruits.
SQM, a leading global specialty fertilizer producer, has been quick to follow up on these latest discoveries. In response to new information highlighting the importance of iodine as an essential plant nutrient, the Chilean-based company has developed a specialty fertilizer with iodine for fertigated crops. This allows growers to apply iodine as a plant micronutrient in a form that is guaranteed to be safe and at an effective science-based dose.
The newly-launched product, known as Ultrasol®ine K Plus, combines two essential plant macronutrients – potassium and nitrate nitrogen – with iodine. The product ensures that they are applied at well-defined application rates. This makes it easy for the grower to maintain an effective and safe concentration of iodine in the root zone. As a result, Ultrasol®ine K Plus can prevent iodine deficiency in crops without the risk of excessive iodine application.
The product has already been extensively tested globally and is backed by more than 100 well-documented trials with growers. The experience of these growers has confirmed that iodine can deliver distinct benefits – including improvements to:
- Root growth
- Above ground plant growth
- Nitrogen metabolism
- Tolerance to abiotic stress
- Flowering and fruit quality with less fruit rot and better shelf life.
After this commercial launch, Ultrasol®ine K Plus will be available for orders since July 18, 2022. For any commercial or technical request,
please contact email@example.com or your local authorized distributor.
Registration figures indicate a drop in the first five months of 2022, but still high sales volumes. Tractors are down 11% compared to the same period in 2021, but remain well above (+13%) the average of the last four years. Manufacturers' President Alessandro Malavolti speaks of a "technical downturn", due not to an actual drop in demand but to problems in the supply chain that have slowed down the pace of delivery of mechanical equipment.
In the first five months of this year, the agricultural machinery market in Italy recorded a downturn compared to the same period in 2021, but sales volumes nevertheless remained high. After last year's record results, when sales of tractors grew by 36% (24,400 units registered) and substantial increases were also recorded for combine harvesters (+30%), tractors with loading platforms (+19.7%), trailers (+20.4%) and telehandlers (+56%), in the period January-May 2022 - according to data provided by the Ministry of Transport and processed by FederUnacoma - declines were recorded for all types. Tractors recorded a decrease of 11% (9,182 vehicles sold in the five months), and tractors with loading platform (-13.9%), trailers (-9%) and telehandlers (-24.3%) were also down, while only combine harvesters recorded a surplus, equal to 2.3 percentage points. Despite the downturns, market levels remain high, and tractors are still 13% above the average of the last four years. Good levels are also being maintained by the market for gardening and landscaping equipment, which in the first three months of the year posted a drop of 7.4%, to be considered natural after the boom in sales in the first quarter of last year (+39.4%), and after a 2021 final result that was nevertheless largely positive (+14%).
Analysing the market trend at the FederUnacoma Annual General Meeting, President Alessandro Malavolti explained that the drop in registrations of agricultural machinery should be interpreted as a "technical downturn", i.e. not caused by a real drop in demand, but rather by delays in the supply chain that have prevented manufacturers, faced with a high number of orders, from respecting the delivery times of mechanical equipment. The general economic situation, which was affected by the conflict in Ukraine, does not seem to have significantly influenced the sector's market, which in each of the five months of the year maintained the same percentage drop (around ten points) without showing any worsening in the months of March, April and May, which were characterised precisely by the military crisis. The resilience of the domestic market - noted the manufacturers' chairman - is also the result of a fairly consistent system of incentives. Several financial support tools are active this year, some of which are also cumulative: the tax credit for 4.0, the Isi (Inail) Decree for machinery with high safety standards, the Sabatini Law for capital goods, as well as the European Union programmes, i.e. the PSR and the PNRR, which have a multi-year duration and aim to support farms in the purchase of new and high-tech equipment.
The Alltech ONE Conference (ONE) wrapped up in Lexington, Kentucky, after a robust agenda of in-person and virtual activities and presentations. ONE welcomed nearly 2,000 international delegates in person, with an additional 5,000 participating virtually. Now in its 38th year, this world-class event brought inspiring keynote speakers and more than 100 industry leaders to the stage, sharing valuable insights in live workshops and focus tracks and uncovering the challenges and opportunities in agriculture, business, health and wellness, and professional development.
“We must unify and take action, today, for the future of agriculture and our planet,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “Together, we have the collective courage and impact to work together for a Planet of Plenty™.”
Lyons was joined on the ONE Mainstage for the closing session by Mick Ebeling, founder and CEO of Not Impossible Labs, and world-class blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer.
Ebeling was recently named by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 50 World’s Greatest Leaders. He is a recipient of the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian of the Year Award and is listed as one of the world’s most influential creative people by The Creativity 50s. Ebeling has sparked a movement of pragmatic, inspirational innovation, and as a career producer and filmmaker, he harvests the power of technology and storytelling to change the world.
“What we do is, we start by telling the story of one person,” said Ebeling. “And then, telling the story of that one person, that’s what scales us to help many people.”
Despite losing his vision at age 14, Weihenmayer is an accomplished climber, paraglider, skier and kayaker who never allows blindness to interfere with his passion for pursuing an exhilarating and fulfilling life. In 2001, he became the first blind person in history to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In 2008, he completed his quest to climb the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent. Additionally, he has ascended dozens of major peaks, rock walls and ice climbs around the planet, including the first blind ascent of the 3,000-foot Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and the ascent of a rarely climbed 3,000-foot frozen waterfall in Nepal.
“We could all stand on this stage and talk about our accomplishments, but what doesn’t get talked about enough are our struggles,” said Weihenmayer.
During the closing session, Lyons presented the Alltech Humanitarian Award, an award that is bestowed annually to someone of strong character who uses their platform to positively influence and inspire those around them, to both Ebeling and Weihenmayer.
“We are pleased to present friends and first-time double Alltech Humanitarian Awards to Mick Ebeling and Erik Weihenmayer at the Alltech ONE Conference,” said Lyons.
Previous award winners have included Muhammad Ali, Steve Wozniak, Bear Grylls and late Alltech founder and Mark’s father, Dr. Pearse Lyons.
As Lyons closed, he noted a mantra often repeated by his father.
“‘Don’t get it right. Get it going,’ … And he was right! It’s not about perfectionism, it’s about progress. If we change the lens and the way we look at things, we can change the way we think.”
The Alltech ONE Conference returns May 21–23, 2023. For more information, visit one.alltech.com
Founded in 1980 by Irish entrepreneur and scientist Dr. Pearse Lyons, Alltech delivers smarter, more sustainable solutions for agriculture. Our products improve the health and performance of plants and animals, resulting in better nutrition for consumers and a decreased environmental impact.
We are a global leader in the animal health industry, producing specialty ingredients, premix supplements, feed and complete feed. Strengthened by more than 40 years of scientific research, we carry forward a legacy of innovation and a unique culture that views challenges through an entrepreneurial lens.
Our more than 5,000 talented team members worldwide share our vision for a Planet of Plenty™. We believe agriculture has the greatest potential to shape the future of our planet, but it will take all of us working together, led by science, technology and a shared will to make a difference.
Alltech is a private, family-owned company, which allows us to adapt quickly to our customers’ needs and maintain focus on advanced innovation. Headquartered just outside of Lexington, Kentucky, USA, Alltech has a strong presence in all regions of the world. For more information, visit alltech.com
On the occasion of the media event “R&D Pipeline update: Bayer Crop Science” we requested an exclusive interview with Dr. Robert Reiter - Head of Research and Development, Bayer Crop Science.
Could you provide us with more detailed information about the new herbicide molecule, which is the first new mode of action in post-emergence weed control in 30 years? Is it going to be the Glyphosate alternative?
The new herbicide mode of action we announced in 2020 is currently in Phase 3. It is an innovative new herbicide with the potential of recharging farmers’ toolbox to cope with increased resistance spread in major grass weeds. It demonstrates effective broad weed control including key resistant grasses, e.g. Ryegrass, Goosegrass and Sourgrass. Furthermore, it opens new opportunities for Herbicide tolerance trait systems in major crops.
However, it will complement the other modes of actions that are available. So one mode of action does not necessarily replace the other. Glyphosate will remain one of the most important herbicides for farmers going forward, given its effectiveness and its safety profile.
Biotech traits: Could you give us a short and simple explanation of this technology and reveal Bayer’s key products of this technology that will be available for commercial sale? Do the European farmers have access to this technology? Specifically, about corn: Could you describe the advantages and the technology behind the short stature corn hybrids - Will be available to the European farmers? Will Bayer also produce corn biostimulants?
Biotechnology in general and Gene editing is a fast-moving field, with many opportunities for researchers to introduce edits and drive change. With that said, we are continuing to innovate alongside this fast pace of change, and we remain confident that we have built the industry's leading portfolio of gene editing tools through licensing and independent research. As of now, we have over 200 exciting targets across our discovery Pipeline across a range of research areas including disease, crop productivity, and grain quality. We think that plant breeding innovation (including NGTs like genome editing) can positively contribute to improve sustainability, food security, and more productive climate-smart agriculture. And that this can be accomplished without compromising on safety, by ensuring a fit-for-purpose regulatory system is in place that ensures food and environmental safety, as well as public transparency.
We advocate for a regulatory approach regarding gene edited plants, which considers both the technical process of breeding and development, and the end product of that process. Regulators have long understood and trusted the safety of products derived from conventional breeding, which involves lengthy trialing, testing and intense selection process to deliver new crop varieties that are safe to grow and consume. Gene editing is the latest breeding tool in a long line of innovations in plant breeding. We believe any regulatory review of crop products developed using gene editing should be risk-based and grounded in science to assure that products are safe for use by humans and animals, and for the environment.
We recommend developing a new EU legislative framework to specifically address the regulatory oversight of plant varieties developed with genome editing and other plant breeding innovation. Such legislation should ensure a clear differentiation between GMO’s and genome-edited plants that could also be obtained through earlier breeding methods or result from spontaneous processes in nature. A new framework for genome edited plants would enable the marketing of sustainable ag solutions and allow for the continued oversight of GMOs without negatively impacting global commodity trade.
Short stature corn is a reduced height, improved stalk strength variety that delivers improved standability and resilience against a host of natural variables. Short stature corn offers the potential to transform corn production through benefits that include:
- Protection from crop yield loss due to increased lodging and greensnap tolerance in high winds and challenging weather conditions.
- Season-long access to timely, precise applications of crop protection and other inputs with standard ground equipment.
- Improved yield potential through optimized crop inputs, planting densities and field placement.
Since last year's Showcase, our short stature corn hybrids developed through breeding have advanced to Phase 4, moving one step closer to reaching farmers’ fields.
Our initial trials indicate that the root systems of breeding trait short stature corn hybrids demonstrate the potential to explore more soil volume faster than standard height corn hybrids, which could lead to better stress tolerance and nutrient and water absorption.
Short stature corn's improved standability also allows growers to pursue planting densities up to 40 percent greater than that possible through traditional corn, and ultimately produce more on every acre. We currently are pursuing short stature corn through three technological approaches – breeding, biotechnology and gene editing. This variety offers the flexibility to navigate global regulations and reach a wider range of markets faster. The breeding version is also suitable for the European market.
All three approaches deliver similar benefits, and we do not plan to stack different short stature corn technologies.
Dr. Robert (Bob) Reiter
Head of Research and Development, Bayer Crop Science
Dr. Robert (Bob) Reiter serves as Head of Research & Development for the Crop Science division of Bayer. In this role, he is a member of the Crop Science Executive Leadership Team and oversees the research and development pipeline for the division.
Having held various leadership roles across Research and Development as well as in Supply Chain, Reiter has nearly 30 years of experience in discovering, developing and delivering innovative R&D solutions in crop science.
He holds a Master of Science and a Doctorate in Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture from The Pennsylvania State University.
Russia and Ukraine are world powers in a global and fragile food system. The long-term consequences of the war on global food supply will impact both the rich and the poor parts of the world. It is essential to reduce the dependency on Russia.
We are extremely concerned about the grave situation which is now unfolding in Ukraine and stand fully behind the Norwegian government's condemnation of the Russian military invasion. Yara has been directly hit by the conflict both by having employees in the war zone in Ukraine and by a missile that hit the Yara office building in Kiev. Fortunately, none of our employees were physically harmed. At the same time, we are sourcing a considerable amount of essential raw materials from Russia, used for food production worldwide.
In addition to the immediate threat to life, and the gruesome sufferings that we are witnessing in Ukraine, few things are more important than access to food. While we can choose to delay consumption of most products and services, food is an essential good. In 2015, the international community decided to eradicate hunger by 2030. Over the last two years, several external shocks, including climate change, the pandemic and increased European gas prices have exposed the weaknesses in the food system and the urgency for change. The World Bank highlighted that even though the current food supply is stable, food prices increase in most countries in the world. In 2020, around 800 million people went hungry to bed, representing an increase of 120 million people from 2019. The war threatens to reinforce this development. Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, had the following reaction: “Just when you thought it could not get any worse (….) Now, food, fuel & transport costs will skyrocket. An absolute catastrophe” he said and announced their extraordinary efforts to help the more than three million people fleeing from the war.
Russia and Ukraine are world powers in agriculture and food production:
- Ukraine is one of the world’s leading agricultural nations and the world’s second biggest within grains. The farmers are now entering a crucial stage in the agricultural season in which input factors such as fertilizer, seeds and water will determine the yield of the coming harvest. The most extreme calculations indicate that if fertilizer is not added to the soil, the crops can be reduced by 50% by the next harvest.
- In addition to being one of the largest producers of wheat, Russia has enormous resources in terms of nutrients. Plants need nitrogen, phosphate, and potash to grow. Nitrogen is supplied from ammonia, which is produced from nitrogen from air and natural gas. The importance of gas has been on the agenda in the debate around the high European gas prices in 2021 and beginning of 2022. 40% of the European gas supply is currently coming from Russia. With regards to potash (a salt extracted from clay deposits), the market is highly concentrated and fragile towards change. Today, 70% of extracted potash and 80% of all exported comes from Canada (40%), Belarus (20%) and Russia (19%). In total, 25% of European supply of these three nutrients come from Russia.
Yara is both a provider of solutions to the agricultural sector in Ukraine and a big buyer of raw materials from Russia. We always comply with current regulations, sanctions and our own guidelines. Free float of goods across boarders has been possible in a time with higher geopolitical stability. Now, with the geopolitical conditions out of balance, the biggest sources of raw material to Europe’s food production are being subject to limitations, and there are no short-term alternatives. One potential consequence is that only the most privileged part of the world population gets access to enough food.
Higher food- and fertilizer prices may positively impact Yara’s bottom line in the short-term. However, the societal and economic perspectives are completely in sync in the longer term: Long-term value creation for private companies can only be achieved through a sustainable food system with food being affordable and accessible to the world population. A world with unstable food supply is a world with famine in parts of the world, increased mortality, armed conflict, migration, riots, and destabilized societies which can further accelerate geopolitical tensions.
It is therefore crucial that the international community come together and work to secure world food production and reduce dependency on Russia, even though the number of alternatives today is limited. This constitutes a difficult dilemma between continuing sourcing from Russia on a short-term basis or cut off Russia from the international food chains. The last option may have considerable social consequences. These considerations are not to be taken by individual companies but need to be made by national and international authorities.
The urgency now lies in helping Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. At the same time, we are pleading Norwegian and international governments to get together and protect the global food production and work together to decrease dependency on Russia.
The prize rewards land use and soil management practices mitigating soil threats i.e. soil degradation, erosion, reduction of organic matter content, diffuse contamination, and compaction as well as the reduction of soil biodiversity, salinization, sealing, flooding and landslides. In doing so, the award sheds light on outstanding achievements, encouraging new concepts of land and soil protection and their implementation in land management, as well as enhancing awareness about the importance of land and soil functions.
Who can apply?
Farmers, landowners, land managers, groups of farmers, on their own or in collaboration with research institutes, universities and/or private companies. The call is open for applicants from all European countries.
To recognize the great value of the farmer’s work, by promoting the winning project as a good practice at the European level. Also, to enhance the visibility of such ways of farming at the local, national as well as European scale and to encourage the farmers to further develop their work in a sustainable path.
5.000 € is awarded to the winning project every year. The Jury can also award a Diploma of Recognition.
How to apply?
The call for application is open from October 1, 2021 you need to send the filled-out application form latest on January 31, 2022. The award is bestowed to the winner every year during the Forum for the Future of Agriculture (FFA) Gala Dinner.
This award has been launched in 2008 by the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO), under the auspices of the European Commission (DG Environment and the Joint Research Centre) and in association with the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) of Vienna, Syngenta International AG, as well as the Centre for Soil and Environmental Sciences of the Ljubljana University. Since then, the award jury has selected outstanding achievements throughout the European Union in the field of sustainable soil and land management.
As a part of its development strategy, VELTIA Labs for Life® Group – member of the Groups Tentamus® and Redestos - has advanced to further expand its current activity in Turkey, where a lab in Antalya region is already operating the last two years. More specifically, the majority stake of STA KALITE Kontrol lab, which is located in Mersin, has just been acquired.
STA, with an annual turnover of over 1m € in the last three years, was established in 2011 and covers a broad spectrum of analyses in the Food and Feed sectors, as well as in the Environmental sector. It is accredited according to ISO/IEC 17025 for a broad spectrum of analyses and parameters, while is also approved by the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture.
STA Labs boasts high-level services in chemical, microbiological, molecular, GMO, pesticide residues and toxins analyses. They fully meet the needs of the local market, the control of imported products in Turkey, and to a great extent, the audit requirements of Turkish exported agri-food products.
The corporate culture being a perfect fit in terms of the quality of services provided, reliability and continuous growth, constituted the principal reason for choosing this specific strategic partnership.
This is a partnership which will lead directly to further investments in Turkey, in selected commercial and industrial centres of the country, for further expansion of the services provided to its partners. It is based on the high-level know-how of VELTIA Labs for Life® and Tentamus®, on the high reputation of STA, as well as on the expertise of its human capital.
Given Tentamus® Group’s growth policy at global level and in combination with the decision for development in the broader geographical region solely through VELTIA Labs for Life® a new era begins. The dynamic presence of VELTIA in Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Turkey is further strengthened through this strategic move, marking the start of an ambitious growth cycle in the region of SE Europe by VELTIA Labs for Life®.
Efficiently controlling crop pests and pathogens is essential for securing agricultural production and quality of produce. Current crop protection practices rely heavily on the use of agrochemicals, but their constant use has come with a significant burden to the environment and has given rise to resistant pest and pathogen pollutions, thus limiting our ability to effectively control them. Therefore, new methods are needed to protect crops. RNAi interference (RNAi), or otherwise known as RNA silencing, has emerged during the last two decades as a new and powerful method to disease control. The RNAi technology exploits a natural biological process in eukaryotic cells that tunes down (“silences”) the expression of genes. By directing the molecules that trigger RNAi against essential genes in crop pests and pathogens, we can thus kill these organisms or hinder their ability to infect plants. RNAi is already exploited in therapeutic applications in humans and holds great promise in its use in agriculture as well.
2020 was declared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations as the International Year of Plant Health. This was an educated and timely decision that intended to highlight the importance of crop protection in securing global food production.
Diseases caused by pests and pathogens cause a significant reduction in crop yields and quality of food produce, thus leading to substantial economic losses and further threatening global food security. It is estimated that up to 42% of the global food production can be lost every year to plant pests and diseases. At the individual crop level, losses to pests and pathogens in the world’s top five staple food crops can mound to 28% in wheat, 41% in rice, 41% in maize, 21% for potato, and 32% in soybean. Food spoilage caused by mycotoxins secreted by fungi in contaminated food and feed is another frequently overlooked factor that adds to the economic losses inflicted by fungal pathogens.
The use of agrochemicals has so far been central to crop protection and contributed significantly to the increase in crop yields. Due to their constant use, however, resistance to agrochemicals is nowadays widely spread among pests and pathogens. Most agrochemicals used in crop protection exert their toxic action by binding and inhibiting the function of vital enzymes and proteins in cells, thus killing the target pest. Cells may then acquire resistance to these chemicals by modifying the structure of the targeted enzymes and proteins, thus preventing the binding of the chemicals to them.
RNAi functions by interfering with the mechanism in the cells that produces enzymes and proteins in the first place. It thus has the potential to avoid many problems associated with conventional chemical pesticides, and offers new and complementary opportunities in disease control. The genetic information that make up all living organisms is contained within the DNA sequence of its genes. Genes control through their expression the organism’s function, by regulating what enzymes and proteins are produced at any given moment in a cell. RNAi ‘silences’ gene expression in cells, thus disrupting their ability to produce the enzymes or proteins that they enocode. RNAi can be used to silence the expression of a single or multiple genes at the same time and, depending on the function of these genes, their silencing may have detrimental consequences for the organisms or alter its characteristics.
The elucidation in the mid-1990s of the RNAi mechanism, was a turning-point to the exploitation of the RNAi technology in a wide array of biotechnological applications in agriculture and therapeutic treatments in humans. In crop science, the RNAi technology has been used to alter or improve the agronomic traits of several crops, including for example enhancing the nutrient content of tomatoes, wheat, canola, cotton, peanut, maize and sweet potato, reducing nicotine and caffeine levels in tobacco and coffee respectively, reducing allergenicity in peanuts and ryegrass, and inducing male sterility in crops such as tobacco, thus accelerating the production of hybrid seeds.
RNAi technology in crop protection has followed two main routes
RNAi has also created exciting new opportunities in plant disease control. Its application in crop protection has followed two main routes, depending on whether RNAi was deployed through the generation of transgenic plants that produce the molecules that induce silencing of the target genes in pests and pathogens, an approach generally referred to as Host-Induced Gene Silencing (HIGS), or through the external (i.e. topical) application of these molecules in the form of RNAi-biopesticides.
HIGS is so far the main approach by which the RNAi technology has been commercialized for use in crop protection and to date, it has been successfully used against various pests and pathogens, including aphids, nematodes, viruses, oomycetes and fungi, in crops such as wheat, barley, cotton and others. Several also transgenic plants with increased resistance to viruses or insects have been approved by regulatory organizations for commercial use and deployment in the fields. Some of the most prominent examples include the approval for planting in the US and Canada of transgenic maize with RNAi-based resistance against the western corn rootworm (WCR) Diabrotica virgifera, the commercialization of plums in the US with resistance against the plum pox virus (PPV), of beans in Brazil with resistance against bean golden mosaic virus (BGMV), of papaya in Hawaii against papaya ring spot virus (PRSV), of potatoes with transgenic resistance to potato leafroll virus (PLRV), and several others. However, despite its potential, HIGS is faced with many challenges, including difficulties in transforming many agronomically important plant species and public acceptance of transgenic plants.
The so-called “spray-induced gene silencing” (SIGS) has emerged over the last decade as a novel, non-transgenic disease control method
An alternative to the HIGS approach uses exogenous applications of the molecules that induce silencing of the target genes in pests and pathogens. The so-called “spray-induced gene silencing” (SIGS) has emerged over the last decade as a novel, non-transgenic disease control method, and several efforts are currently underway to produce RNAi-biopesticides that can be used as sprayable products or products for root drenching, seed treatments, trunk injections or baits. Although not commercialized yet, foliar applications of RNAi-inducing molecules have proven very successful in trials against several insect pests, including for example of the Colorado potato beetle Leptinotarsa decemlineata, the Asian citrus psyllid Diaphorina citri, the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella, and of several others. SIGS was also shown to successfully reduce infections by Botrytis cinerea on tomato and Fusarium graminearum on barley, indicating that the method can be used against fungi as well. However, despite its potential, a limitation in the adoption and marketability of SIGS in crop protection is the high cost for the production of the RNAi-inducing molecules and the low stability of these molecules in the environment. To overcome these limitations, a variety of synthetic materials that encapsulate and protect the RNAi-inducing molecules are currently under development. So-called ‘bioclay’ for example that is made of a double-layered hydroxide clay nanosheet, is shown to provide sufficient protection of the RNAi-inducing molecules and further enables their slower release, thus providing longer periods of protection.
Bacteria are thus turned into miniature “RNAi bombs” that can be applied against fungi
In the laboratory of Prof. Ioannis Stergiopoulos at the University of California Davis, researchers have recently experimented with using non-pathogenic bacteria as vectors for producing and delivering RNAi-inducing molecules to fungi. The bacteria were first genetically engineered to produce within their cells the molecules that trigger silencing of the target genes in fungi. To release these molecules from the cells, the bacteria were further genetically engineered to autolyze under conditions defined by the user. Bacteria are thus turned into miniature “RNAi bombs” that can be applied against fungi. The method was successfully used to limit the growth of B. cinerea on plants and the production of the highly carcinogenic mycotoxin aflatoxin by Aspergillus flavus. Variations of this method have also been used successfully in the past by other researchers against insects, nematodes, and mammalian cells, indicating that bacterial-mediated delivery of RNAi can be turned into an effective tool in crop protection.
2018 marked a turning point in the use of RNAi technology, as the first RNAi-based drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for commercial use in medicine. Since then, three more drugs have received approval, thus unlocking the use of the RNAi technology in human therapeutics. RNAi-based technologies hold a great promise for their successful use in agriculture as well. Whether for crop trait improvement or for protecting crops against pests and pathogens, RNAi may prove key to securing global food production. Although all currently marketed RNAi-based products are genetically modified ones, this will likely soon change with the development of RNAi-biospesticides. Several of the leading agricultural companies as well as smaller start-up companies are in the process of developing such RNAi-biopsesticies against plant pests, and the first products could become commercially available in just a few years from now. Such products could be tailored against only a specific pest or pathogen, or against a wider range of harmful to plants organisms. RNAi-biopesticides could also help reduce chemical inputs in agriculture and may prove key to controlling resistant to agrochemicals pests and pathogens. Although still in the early phases of its development, the RNAi technology could provide farmers with the tools needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century agriculture.
The best olive oils of JOOP 2021 chosen among the almost 500 participants from 20 different countries have been revealed.
The Organizing Committee of the Japan Olive Oil Prize has announced the winners of the IX edition of JOOP (Japan Olive Oil Prize), that has grown to become one of the most important competition for EVOO globally, and the JOOP Design Award, at its second edition with the participation of internationally renowned designers.
Japan is Asia’s first consumer and the world’s eighth biggest importer of extra virgin olive oil. Within the last 5 years, Japan’s import has increased by 22%, reaching in 2019 a total of 72.844 tons of imported olive oil for an overall value of 35.331 million of Japanese yen (289,5 million euro). 89% of such import comes from Europe, mainly from Spain (59%) and Italy (37%).
Japanese consumers are more and more knowledgeable about the beneficial effects on health of extra virgin olive oil and "along with the increase of extra virgin olive oil domestic consumption fuelled by the pandemic, the demand for flavored oils has been rising. For Japanese consumers who are not used to buying such products, aromatic oils represent a valid alternative” explained Miciyo Yamada, JOOP Panel Leader.
JOOP relies on a jury of 9 international certified jurors, overseen by 3 panel leaders: Konstantinos Liris (Greece), Miciyo Yamada (Japan), Antonio G. Lauro (Italy).
The rigorous selection resulted in the proclamation of the winners for the P.G.I, P.D.O., Organic, Monovarietal, Blend, Flavored categories. According to the scores obtained, oils have received the Best in Class, Gold, Silver awards.
Following the quality prize, the 3 winners of the JOOP Design Award have been announced, a prize conferred to those producers who stood out thanks to their ability to convey the identity of their product through the bottle logo, label and design.
The jury consisted of international designers of the likes of Fabio Novembre (Italy), Fumie Shibata and Yasuhiko Tsuchida (Japan), Karim Rashid and Marc Atlan (USA), Adrian Geralnik (Spain), Constantinos Hoursoglou (Greece), Loukas & Vasso of StudioLav (Greece).
JOOP 2021 winners
BEST OF ARGENTINA
El Mistol Clasico - Agropecuaria El Mistol S.A.
BEST OF FRANCE
Château d'Estoublon - AOP BIO - Sas Estoublon
BEST OF CROATIA
Olive oil Lucio - Family Farm Lucio,Dafne Ruzic,Island Solta
BEST OF GREECE
Olix Oil Nate Premium (Koroneiki) - Olix Oil Mepe
BEST OF ITALY
Superbo - Americo Quattrociocchi
BEST OF PORTUGAL
Casa de Santo Amaro NATURE Organic Evoo DOP Azeite de Trás-os-Montes - Trás-os-Montes Prime Lda
BEST OF SPAIN
Frantoio - Almazara Deortegas S.L.
BEST OF TUNISIA
Domaine Adonis Blend - Domaine Adonis
BEST OF TURKEY
Genius Olive Oil - Genius LTD ŞTİ
BEST OF USA
Truly Koroneiki - Corto Olive Co
BEST OF FLAVORED (Greece)
Oleoastron Gourmet Evoo – Flavored Evoo with Fennel, Bay Leaves, Rosemary and Oregano - Sakellaropoulos Organic Farms
BEST OF POLYPHENOLS (Greece)
Hypereleon Ultra Gold - D. Mourlas and Co L.P. / G-Team
Joop Design Award winners:
1. Monogram Premium Organic / Monogram Olive Oil
2. Château d'Estoublon - Bouteillan / Sas Estoublon
3. Protoleo / Rafteli Protouli Maria & Co
Mr. Siddhartha Durairajan is the CEO of the company Cellestial E-mobility. The startup company working on developing e-Tractors. The company have built the 1st Electric tractor in India and the 2nd in the world. Mr. Siddhartha Durairajan is a seasoned entrepreneur with 25 years of Industry experience. Besides Cellestial E-Mobility, he also co-founded an engineering design company, Invilogic Software; which is a global leader in Knowledge based systems. With more than 20 years of experience in the mechanical design space, he brings the best design practices to Cellestial. Bellow is presented the interview of Mr. Siddhartha Durairajan.
Q: Could you tell me more about the idea of e-Tractor? Which are the special features and the agriculture equipment that can be fit on the vehicle?
Cellestial E-Mobility believes Green is the new Innovation. Growing population, increasing pollution and subsequent global warming all have ensured the need to switch to green solutions and adopt non-fuel drive as a sustainable approach. A changing ecosystem & efficient economic solution thirsty market inspired Cellestial in introducing e-Tractors.
Cellestial has introduced the 1st E-Tractors in the country which offer the following advantages:
- Quiet and pollution free. Hence clean and green!
- 1/10th the cost of running in comparison to a diesel tractor
- Very low maintenance cost
- Compact, Lightweight and easy to use.
- Battery pack is swappable and can be charged with a domestic power connection also
- Instantaneous torque and regenerative braking system to save on battery charge
All generic equipment like rotavators, tillers, cultivator, sprayer and everything that supports hydraulic and PTO can be attached to the Electric tractor!
Cellestial is an R&D company and is continually working on improvements and variations in its products. It is targeting Agriculture, Aviation and Logistics industries for the tractor. We've built the 1st Electric tractor in the country and the 2nd in the world. The Electric tractor is clean and green which no noise and no pollution!! It has a maximum range of 75 kms and the lithium ion battery pack is manufactured in house with more than 18 years of experience. The battery pack is easily swappable and can be charged with any domestic connection also! It is very competitively priced with the diesel 21HP counterpart and is better than the same. It can produce instantaneous torque of huge capacity and has been tested with a 2.25 ton load bearing capacity in comparison to a 1 ton maximum haulage of a 21 HP diesel tractor.
The Electric tractor is cheaper than diesel and ensures 90% savings on the running cost of a tractor. A diesel tractor running cost is between Rs 250- 300 per hour, whereas that of our electric tractor is just Rs 6 per hour. The number of moving parts are reduced drastically to just 20 parts in an electric tractor in comparison to around 200 moving parts in diesel. Hence ensuring very low maintenance cost. The electric motor and assembly ensure very little or no oiling required too. The Electric tractor will ensure that the farmer is able to get maximum earnings by reducing his operating costs!
Q: For what kinds of cultivation is it suitable?
It has been tested on different types of soil conditions and is suitable for all kinds of cultivation from small lands to medium size farms!
Q: How much does it cost (in euros)? Did you ask the farmers how much they are willing to pay for the vehicle and does that determine how much you charge them?
We are yet to derive the pricing for the different international markets. In India the price is around 5500 Euros. This price has been arrived at after detail discussions with farmers, market research and keeping in mind that the market is price sensitive. Hence the pricing of the electric tractor is very competitive to its diesel counter part!
Q: In which countries is the tractor sold? Have you considered promoting it in Europe as well?
We are currently setting up the distributor and dealer network all across India to start with.
- Making the product available on agriculture based online platforms for booking/ buying
- Tie ups with Village cooperative societies and Gram Panchayats to ensure welfare programmes and aid for the farmers in buying the tractors
- Giving proposal to the Central and state Governments to execute policies and give subsidies on the usage of Electric machinery in Agriculture
We are also in the process of signing memorandums of understanding and setting up distributors for USA, Mexico and are pursuing advance stage discussions with a company in Netherlands. We do plan to promote and tie up with channel distributors In Europe!
1. The Super Trilogue conference for the Future CAP was held on 26/3/2021 in cooperation and responsibility of the three institutions – the Council, Commission and European Parliament. Furthermore, the ongoing inter-institutional negotiations about the future CAP 2023-2027 reform are at a final stage – Could you describe us briefly the latest status, focusing mainly on the 1st and 2nd pillar funds?
The so-called “Super Trilogue” of 26 March 2021 was indeed a constructive meeting and allowed achieving significant progress on a number of key issues. While we don’t comment on on-going negotiations, we can say that decisive steps were taken to reach an agreement on the future CAP, notably on the New Delivery Model, confirming the shift to a performance-oriented policy, focusing on results rather than on compliance with detailed eligibility rules. The super trilogue brought some progress as well on how to ensure a fairer distribution of direct support, and allowed for substantial advancement on the Common Market Organisation (CMO) file, notably, on wine. All three institutions have shown flexibility to build compromises for the benefit of our farming community.
The Commission remains committed to reaching an overall political compromise in spring 2021 during the Portuguese Presidency, so as to ensure a timely preparation and implementation of the new CAP in 2023. The co-legislators can count on the Commission to engage constructively in its pursuit to facilitate a swift agreement on a sustainable and robust CAP.
2. One of the Commission’s aims is to support generational renewal. One of the main obstacles for young farmers is the lack of financial support to invest in their business. What kind of financial instruments will be available for young farmers during the next CAP period? Will the support for young farmers be combined with financial aid for older farmers that wish to withdraw from their agricultural activity in order to foster a transition of land ownership?
The Commission proposals for the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) from 2023 includes a specific objective focusing on attracting young farmers and facilitating their start-up and business development.
Member States will have to dedicate a minimal amount of their CAP funding to help generational renewal with support for income, start up and cooperation among farmers to help transfer of skills and farms. Such cooperation in combination with national instruments may facilitate transition of land ownership as well as facilitating access to resources for young farmers. Member States may set in their CAP Strategic Plans preferential conditions for financial instruments for young farmers which can be used for land purchase. For example, under rural development measures, young farmers can benefit from loans, guarantees and equity. Those are key opportunity for young farmers experiencing difficulties in accessing credit, and Member States can use them in combination with grants to multiply financial resources.
Young farmers will have access to increased support for 2021-2022, thanks to the CAP transitional rules and the funds available for rural development under the European Recovery Instrument.
In 2021, the Commission will issue a long-term vision for rural areas to highlight specific challenges and explore innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions to keep rural areas attractive as living spaces across the EU.
3. What initiatives is Commission willing to take in order to promote the support for Producer Groups and Organizations in particular concerning their role for using risk management tools for insuring and covering losses from their agricultural production?
The Farm to Fork Strategy includes measures to enhance cooperation of primary producers to support their position in the food chain (Action11).
Measures to foster producer organisations are currently being discussed in the negotiations to amend the CMO Regulation, part of the CAP reform process. Such measures provide the possibility for producers and their organisations to manage the supply of quality products in all agricultural sectors.
Furthermore, the discussions on the Strategic Plan Regulation aim to extend the so-called sectoral interventions to all agricultural sectors.This means that Member States may choose to fund certain actions for producer organisations. These can include crisis prevention and risk management, aimed at avoiding and dealing with market crises of the relevant sector. Examples of such risk management interventions include support to mutual funds, investments in volume management, collective storage of products by the producer organisations and harvest insurance.
4. On the management of the COVID-19 crisis, farmers are asking for continuation of support measures by the Commission. There will be new measures in 2021? Are you planning to some tailored support measures for a specific sector of the agri-food chain (olive growers, grape growers etc)?
In view of the current market situation for agricultural products, the Commission does not envisage any additional market support measure in 2021. However the Covid-19 relief scheme for the wine sector was recently extended to 15 October 2021.
The Commission presented an Action Plan for the development of organic production. Its overall aim is to boost the production and consumption of organic products, to reach 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030, as well as to increase organic aquaculture significantly.
Organic production comes with a number of important benefits: organic fields have around 30% more biodiversity, organically farmed animals enjoy a higher degree of animal welfare and take less antibiotics, organic farmers have higher incomes and are more resilient, and consumers know exactly what they are getting thanks to the EU organic logo. The Action Plan is in line with the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.
The Action Plan is designed to provide the already fast growing organic sector the right tools to achieve the 25% target. It puts forward 23 actions structured around 3 axes – boosting consumption, increasing production, and further improving the sustainability of the sector – to ensure a balanced growth of the sector.
VIDEO: Press conference by Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski on the Adoption of the Organic Action Plan:
The Commission encourages Member States to develop national organic action plans to increase their national share of organic farming. There are significant differences between Member States regarding the share of agricultural land currently under organic farming, ranging from 0.5% to over 25%. The national organic action plans will complement the national CAP strategic plans, by setting out measures that go beyond agriculture and what is offered under the CAP.
Growing consumption of organic products will be crucial to encourage farmers to convert to organic farming and thus increase their profitability and resilience. To this end, the Action Plan puts forward several concrete actions aimed at boosting demand, maintaining consumer trust and bringing organic food closer to citizens. This includes: informing and communicating about organic production, promoting the consumption of organic products, stimulating a greater use of organics in public canteens through public procurement and increasing the distribution of organic products under the EU school scheme. Actions also aim, for example, at preventing fraud, increasing consumers' trust and improving traceability of organic products. The private sector can also play a significant role by, for example, rewarding employees with ‘bio-cheques' they can use to purchase organic food.
Presently, about 8.5% of EU's agricultural area is farmed organically, and the trends show that with the present growth rate, the EU will reach 15-18% by 2030. This Action Plan provides the toolkit to make an extra push and reach 25%. While the Action Plan largely focuses on the “pull effect” of the demand side, the Common Agricultural Policy will remain a key tool for supporting the conversion. Currently, around 1.8% (€7.5 billion) of CAP is used to support organic farming. The future CAP will include eco-schemes which will be backed by a budget of €38 – 58 billion, for the period 2023 – 2027, depending on the outcome of the CAP negotiations. The eco-schemes can be deployed to boost organic farming.
Beyond the CAP, key tools include organisation of information events and networking for sharing best practices, certification for groups of farmers rather than for individuals, research and innovation, use of blockchain and other technologies to improve traceability increasing market transparency, reinforcing local and small-scale processing, supporting the organisation of the food chain and improving animal nutrition.
To raise awareness on organic production, the Commission will organise an annual EU ‘Organic day' as well as awards in the organic food chain, to recognise excellence at all steps of the organic food chain. The Commission will also encourage the development of organic tourism networks through ‘biodistricts'. 'Biodistricts' are areas where farmers, citizens, tourist operators, associations and public authorities work together towards the sustainable management of local resources, based on organic principles and practices.
The Action Plan also notes that organic aquaculture production remains a relatively new sector but has a significant potential for growth. The upcoming new EU guidelines on the sustainable development of EU aquaculture, will encourage Member States and stakeholders to support the increase in organic production in this sector.
Finally, it also aims to further improve organic farming's performance in terms of sustainability. To achieve this, actions will focus on improving animal welfare, ensuring the availability of organic seeds, reducing the sector's carbon footprint, and minimising the use of plastics, water and energy.
The Commission also intends to increase the share of research and innovation (R&I) and dedicate at least 30% of the budget for research and innovation actions in the field of agriculture, forestry and rural areas to topics specific to or relevant for the organic sector.
The Commission will closely monitor progress through a yearly follow-up with representatives of the European Parliament, Member States and stakeholders, through bi-annual progress reports and a mid-term review.
Harvesting started timidly in Etoloakarnania (Western Greece) and Laconia (Peloponnese), but in Argolida (Peloponnese) people are not in a hurry.
Mr. Petros Bletas from “Sparta Orange” Citrus Agricultural Cooperative of the city of Skala in the district of Laconia stressed out to AgroTypos that first harvesting of Valencia oranges in Laconia has started a few days ago. The quality is very good this year as well, there are no problems from diseases or the weather and output is also good. According to Mr. Bletas, demand is satisfactory, and grower’s prices are currently around 20 cents net income to grower.
Mr. Dimitris Balabanis, a citrus grower from Evinochori village, near Missolonghi (Western Greece), where he cultivates a total of 60 stremma, told to AgroTypos that the harvesting of Valencia in the wider area has started a few days ago, there is demand, and prices offered to growers are around 20 cents per kilo, for the very good qualities. The output in the area is satisfactory and quality is at very high levels, but most farmers are not in a hurry to sell, expecting higher prices. According to him, starting prices are higher this year, than in previous years.
According to Mr. Andreas Kotsalos, a grower of citrus fruits from Missolonghi, acts of sale that are now being done for Valencia oranges in this area, are carried out for prices from 18 to 21 cents per kilo, and qualities are excellent.
Mr. Apostolos Hionas, a citrus grower from Gastouni, in the district of Ilia (Western Greece), told to AgroTypos that Valencia harvesting has not started in the area, as people are now mainly harvesting Lane Late. More estates with Valencia in the district of Ilia are found in the villages towards Pyrgos, the district’s capital.
Lastly, Mr. Vassilis Dokos, a citrus grower from the village of Koutsopodi in the district of Argolida, told to AgroTypos that Valencia harvesting is delayed in the area and that the first growers will harvest in the estates in a month from now.
Trout is a fish that belongs to the solomonids family. In fish breeding, rainbow trout is preferred.
The appropriate water temperature for breeding is considered from 12-17 Celsius degrees. A necessary condition for its breeding is the conservation of the necessary quantity and quality of water, since trout is a fish that does not live in dirty waters, as well as the proportion of temperature and oxygen.
When it comes to inland fish breeding in Greece, we are talking mainly about trout farming in the Region of Epirus (northwestern Greece) and specifically in the areas of Louros, where there are about 20 fish farms and Louros Fish Breeding Station. Trout breeding in Epirus is around 3,000 tons per year (65-70% of country’s total output).
Mr. Vangelis Tsialios, owner of “Smoked Fish” from Vouliasta in the city of Ioannina, together with his brother are engaged in processing and standardization of trout since 1976. As he emphasizes in AgroTypos “our company buys fresh trout from the area’s fish farms, processes them into smoked trout and standardizes them. The smoking process removes about 65% of fish meat, so it is sold at a higher price compared to fresh fish. This year we had a shortage of water and there was reduced trout breeding. The trout farming sector presents in recent decades stagnation in new investments, as almost all of the units that operate today in Ioannina have their starting point in early 80’s.
Internal consume has decreased, due to the pandemic, exports have not yet reached a satisfactory level, while breeding cost is increased. Region’s fish breeding stations are selling at fish markets (about 70% of the output) fresh trout from 2.90 to 3.00 euros per kilo. Exports of fresh trout are also carried out mainly to the Balkans. More specifically, in Romania they found out about Greek trout and they have a great notion of it, so they import great amounts every year. Smoked trout is exported mainly in the EU at almost double price. In the past when we had drachma currency in Greece, we used to export to the USA as well, because we were more competitive”.
Mr. Xenophon Kolios, owner of a fish farm in Ano Mousiotitsa in the city of Ioannina, states in AgroTypos that “the state has abandoned us. Louros Fish Station, created to supply the units with rainbow trout spawn, practically does not work. During the pandemic, apart from 800 euros that the state gave us last year, we did not get any further aid despite the reduction in consumption due to the lockdown in catering. This year we had reduced fish breeding due water issues, but no one is compensating us.
Since the economic crisis, the consumption of fish has decreased. It is considered an expensive fish but middlemen are to blame. We sell to fish market at 3 euros per kilo, with a profit of 50 cents per kilo. Merchants sell in retail stores at twice the price and 100% profit. Consumers will hardly find trout under 6 euros per kilo.
The cost of fish food is increasing every year. For a ton of fish, I need 1,500 euros of fish food. But trout spawn is also expensive. Three hundred thousand fish (spawn) cost 4 cents each. In other words, I need 12,000 euros a year for a spawn
I export 90% of my output to the Romanian market. Although Romanians could buy trout from Turkey at lower prices, they prefer Greek trout because of its nice taste. I export fresh trout at a price of 2.70 euros per kilo, lower than the price of the Greek market, because in Romania they buy larger quantities.
In Greece we have good quality water in the rivers, something that gives fish good quality and taste. But the state does not help by doing investments to increase production. There is a lot of bureaucracy in investment programs, so breeding units cannot be modernized in order to reduce costs. There is also demand from Germany for Greek trout but the market there needs approximately 30,000 tons per year. We cannot cover the needs of these markets with today's data and compete with other countries”.
Mr. George Kallos, owner of the Athamania fish breeding farm, at the top of mount Tzoumerka in Trikala (Central Greece), says to AgroTypo that “I started to breed sea bream, but then I started to breed trout. Favorable conditions for breeding this fish are high altitude, low temperature and clear waters. Trout is traded in the Greek market, although in recent years there is interest in exports. There is also demand for smoked trout.
There is also difference in fish’s life circle. In cold waters it is ready to be sold to marker when it is 1.5 years old, whereas in hot waters it is sold when it is 1 year old.
Before the pandemic, large units with an annual output of over 50 tons sold the fish in fish markets at prices of 2.70 - 3 euros per kilo. Small units, like mine, with an average annual output of about 10 tons, sell in restaurants and gourmet shops around 4 euros per kilo. Of course, small units have higher breeding costs. Also, trout is a fish that has expensive fish food, which range from 1 to 4 euros per kilo. There is a big issue with the pandemic, because restaurants and tourism are closed down.
Financial aid was given, but it is not enough to cover the damage done to businesses.
In the past I was certified for organic trout breeding but the price - as well as the cost - was double compared to conventional breeding and it was not easy to be sold to the market.
The problem is that even though trout is a fish with good quality Omega- 3 oils (always fed with clean food), our county’s consumers are not aware of that. An organized advertising campaign should be done in order to increase its consumption".
Mr. Giannis Gerontidis, owner of the G-fish company from Laconia (Peloponnese), one of the first fish farms in the country (since 1969), points out to AgroTypos that “everything depends on the quality we want the breeding trout to have. We want to have a quality breed; thus, we have to feed the fish with expensive food, the average price of which is around 2 euros per kilo. The location also helps us, since our unit uses water from mount Taygetos springs. Clear water gives beautiful taste to the fish.
This specific fish has great nutritional value. We breed about 10 - 12 tons of trout on an annual basis. In fresh form it is consumed in the local market. Smoked fillet is sold for around 18 euros per kilo in specialty food stores and restaurants. We also export smoked trout to Cyprus, Romania and Austria".
Mandarin harvesting of Nova variety is going to be completed in a few days and this was a good year in terms of grower’s prices.
This was due to good demand and export flow.
The province of Etoloakarnania (Western Greece) first started to harvest Ortanik variety and these days the province of Laconia (Peloponnese) is also harvesting. The first shipments for export have departed, while towards the end of the month, export flows are expected to increase.
Low temperatures hit mandarins in some areas in Laconia. The problem is that unlike oranges, small quantities of non-marketable mandarins are brought to juice in our country. So, growers have no way out for the non-marketable quantities. According to Agrotypos report, about 400 - 500 tons of mandarins go for juicing on an annual basis.
As Mr. Petros Bletas from Citrus Agricultural Cooperative, Sparta Orange in the region of Skala in the province of Laconia stated to AgroTypos, at this time, Nova mandarin harvesting is almost completed in the area. This year was very good for this variety. They started from 30 - 32 cents grower’s price and then due to good demand, the price increased to 60 cents for good quality mandarins. In the last few days, Ortanik variety harvest has begun. Grower’s price started from 22 cents per kilo, while afterwards it dropped to 18 to 20 cents. I think it is a moderate year for Ortanik variety. For Nova variety about 80% of the output is exported, while in Ortanik variety 100% is exported.
Lastly, Mr. Lambros Porkos, member of the Citrus Agricultural Cooperative of Stratos village near the city of Agrinio, pointed out to AgroTypos that This was a bad year for all citrus fruits. This year Nova mandarins had a better grower’s price than the rest of the crop. Ortanik on the other hand, had lower prices. More specifically, the average grower’s prices started from 20 cents and this season they have dropped to 17-18 cents per kilo. However, low temperatures in the last few days did not affect the mandarin output.
The Agricultural Olive-processing Cooperative of Metamorfosi in the district of Lakonia has moved to a new sale, in the highest recorded price in the market.
More specifically, the Agricultural Olive-processing Cooperative of Metamorfosi in Lakonia has done one more sale of extra virgin olive oil of excellent acidity (0,18%) for the price of 3.10 euros per kilo. It is an output without any trace of pesticide residues and promoter company is ELFA IKE owned by Mr. Kouskouris, as they told us from the Cooperative, and during past days, the company has sold a significant amount for the price of 3 euros per kilo. As Mr. Yannis Laggis from the Cooperative of Metamorfosi in Lakonia stated in AgroTypos, there is still available this season’s olive oil, around 500 tons and there is also great demand, while abroad good quality oil is paid around 3 euros per kilo. We must point out that the Cooperative’s production for this year is around 940 tons. The price of 3.10 euros goes to grower.
According to AgroTypos information, the Agricultural Cooperative of Trifilia has done a sale of 63 tons of olive oil. This amount was purchased by a company in the city of Aigio for the price of 2.72 euros pre kilo. At the same time, in the same district, as Giorgos Kokkinos from Nileas growers’ team told us, there is an upward trend from the beginning of the season, so acts of sale are done at 2.70 – 2.80 euros per kilo, while in the beginning, the price was no more than 2.50 euros per kilo. It seems that, according to the information Mr. Kokkinos told us, the expectations are validated for better prices compared to last year, as a result of instable weather conditions.
This year moderate optimism prevails for olive oil in the north of Messinia, where there is little output this year, due to, among other things, the lack of farm workers and restrictions on travel due to coronavirus, restrictions that prevented many people from harvesting olive fruit, compared to previous years. As Mr. Pavlos Kaplanis from Ben Olive Mill - Benakopoulos Olive Mill, based in northern Messinia, explained to us, there is very good olive oil quality this year, which is partly due to the fact that as there were not many farm workers available, growers harvested a small amount of olive fruit every day. Thus, this olive mill extracted olive oil within a few hours. Mr. Kaplanis also told us that prices started at 2.40 euros per kilo, while now they have risen to levels above 2.50 euros per kilo. The situations in retail market in Greece is good and there is moderate optimism, while according to him, his company sold the output in Italy, which in other years, was focused on Greece. It should be noted that the Benakopoulos Olive Mill is open to the public, operates all year round and is visited by tourists from all over the world. What is impressive, according to Mr. Kaplanis, is the fact that several wealthy tourists have entered our country by trailers and are eagerly waiting lifting of restrictions.
According to Mr. Michalis Kampitakis, grower from the city of Iraklio in the island of Crete, the market is functioning in normal terms, there is demand, but growers and olive oil mills are more prudent and they do not give their product so easily. Grower’s prices in the island are now around 2.60 to 2.70 euros per kilo, adding 20 cents in the beginning of the season, as Mr. Kampitakis told us. According to him, this year, there is quality in the output, as well as stock.
Aitoloakarnania (Western Greece)
Ms. Vasiliki Maraveli is the owner of an olive mill in Nea Avorani, Panaitolio in the city of Agrinio, and an olive tree grower. Her mill does not buy olive oil from growers, but Ms. Maraveli has standardized olive oil herself with the Alsea brand, exporting to the EU and mainly to Europe. According to her, the quality of the olive oil produced this year was more than excellent in the area around Lake Trichonida, with low acidity (up to 0.4%), which is due to the complete absence of olive fruit fly, not because the olive fruit fly spraying program was carried out as it should, as she explained to us, but probably for other reasons. Grower’s prices, of course, have not exceeded 2.50 euros per kilo, as she told us. Lastly, regarding exports, Ms. Maraveli told us that coronavirus has already had a negative effect.
Prices are very low for lemons, according to growers who spoke to AgroTypos.
Even though this commercial season had a good start regarding prices, afterwards it started go downwards, which resulted in lemons not having any commercial interest and prices going below cost.
Even though this is the situation in Greek market, imports from Turkey continue, importing lemons of questionable quality. In a recent article of AgroTypos we pointed out that four loads of lemons with high level of pesticide residues were registered to EU’s RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed). However, the cultivation cost in Turkey is at very low level. Ten years ago, the daily wage of land workers in Turkey was at 5 euros, whereas in Greece it was 30 euros.
Mrs. Ekaterini Gkinopoulou, lemon grower from Xylokastro (district of Corynth – Peloponnese), points out to AgroTypos that this season there is a huge problem in selling lemons. Our output is getting rotten on trees and is at risk because of frost. Even though we had a good start at the beginning of the commercial season in early November, with grower’s prices being at 70 cents per kilo, in the following days we have a gradual reduction of prices. This time of year, prices are stabilized at 30 cents per kilo. But now sales are stopped. Some merchants demand from us to sell lemons at 25 cents per kilo, when the cultivation cost is 30- 35 cents. In the beginning, merchants told us that the reduction of prices is due to increased imports from Turkey. Now they tell us that it is due to lockdown in catering because of the pandemic. But again, the pandemic still existed in 2020 and there was a lockdown in catering as well, but lemon prices were not under 40 cents. Moreover, this year there is a reduction in prices and we ask from the Ministry of Agricultural Development to take measures, because lemon growers neither can manage their own expenses nor their huge livelihood problems.
Mr. Costas Deligiannis, lemon grower from the region of Aigio (district of Achaia – Peloponnese), tells to AgroTypos that prices are at very low level. At the same time, imports from Turkey continue. This time of year, there are growers who sell lemons at 20 cents per kilo. It is the first time in many years of cultivation that I see prices being so low. There is no commercial interest for lemons. Many of them will remail on trees. Growers who started harvesting this time of year will have great losses. The cultivation will be abandoned because they cannot deal with their own expenses. We are talking about a great economic disaster.
AgroTypos talked to Mr. Dimitris Douvis, lemon exporter from the city of Xylocastro. As he told us, there is no commercial interest in lemons this time of year. I export mainly to the Balkans and Europe and there is a problem due to the pandemic. There is also great competition and increased output (from Turkey, Spain, Cyprus etc.). This season my exports are reduced by almost 70%, compared to last year.
Exclusive interview to AgroTypos with representatives of the Spanish Association of Olive Tree Municipalities (Asociación Española de Municipios del Olivo - AEMO).
As the end of the 2020/2021 olive oil production campaign in Spain is approaching, let us make a first assessment through some notes:
- A typical fat yields, 3 or 4 points below the average according to the areas, which will undoubtedly make the amount of final oil produced less than that predicted by the different forecasts and ratings issued by the administrations. Without much fear of being wrong, we can say that the 20/21 harvest in Spain will not exceed 1,450,000 T of olive oil. To this must be added that the low production in the rest of the Mediterranean Basin is confirmed, as had already been announced.
- Campaign very complicated climatologically with persistent and intense frosts and with continued rainfall that has reduced the working days of work, especially from the 2nd half of December, which has complicated harvesting and has negatively affected the quality of the fruit from of those dates. All this makes us confirm, once again, that delaying the harvest entails real risks that affect the final quality of the product, and therefore its value.
- Year in which the good extra virgin olive oil will have a greater differential with respect to the lower categories, simply because the superior quality product is scarce and because the market is increasingly demanding a higher percentage of extra virgin on the shelves.
- Magnificent behavior of monthly oil outlets from Spanish mills, both for domestic consumption and for exports, confirming that consumption is very firm and that it is very likely that the total commercialization of Spanish oil during the campaign will exceed 1,620,000 T (12x135,000 T / month).
- Meritorious management of the pandemic by olive growers and harvesting crews in the field, and milling teams in oil mills and cooperatives, with a low incidence of contagion derived from a good and effective preventive strategy for COVID.
In short, we are in a very balanced campaign between world production and consumption, which will lead to the strength of equilibrium prices at origin, which by the way was and is necessary after three years where our olive growers have suffered losses, with costs production higher than the income generated by the sale of the oil.
Mr Jose Mª Penco, director of AEMO
Mr José Mª Penco (Córdoba, 1968) is Agricultural Engineer and Master in Olive Growing and Olive Oil by Cordoba University. Manager of the Spanish Association of Olive Tree Municipalities (AEMO). Olive mill Designer and International EVOO Quality Consultant. Taster, member and panel leader of numerous national and international competitions on quality in extra virgin olive oil. Director of EVOOLEUM AWARDS. Professor of different masters in the universities of Jaén, Córdoba, Madrid.
The Commission adopted the extension of exceptional measures to support the wine sector by one year, making the measures applicable until 15 October 2021 and retroactive from 16 October 2020.
Hard hit by the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, the wine sector suffered from the closure of restaurants and bars across the EU, the restrictions and cancellations of celebrations as well as rapid changes in demand. The US tariffs on EU wine have also contributed to the difficulties faced by the market, limiting exports to the USA, in the context of the Boeing/Airbus WTO dispute.
Adopted in 2020, the measures aim at maximising the use of the budget available under the national support programmes for wine.
Today’s adoption prolongs the following exceptional measures:
Crisis distillation and storage aid and advanced payments: these measures allow the removal of wine from the EU market, limiting the negative impact on prices and improving operators’ cash flow. Member States can provide advanced payments for up to 100% of costs, enabling them to fully utilise their national support programme funds and to release market pressure more rapidly.
Higher European Union's contribution: the European Union's contribution for all measures of the national support programmes in the wine sector may reach 70%, an increase of 20%. This will continue to provide financial relief to beneficiaries.
Increased flexibility under market support programmes: this includes for instance an increased flexibility of tools to control production potential, the so-called green harvesting tool, and the possibility for Member States to adapt their wine support programmes and for beneficiaries to adjust their operations as needed.
The situation in internal walnut market seems to change gradually, as growers realize that demand increases, so as prices.
Yannis Siatos cultivates 80 stremma with Carifornia walnut trees and local traditional varieties in the region of Feneo in the district of Corinth. As he mentions to AgroTypos, this season did not start well as far as demand and grower’s prices are concerned (they were 10% below compared to last year), due to corona virus and the lockdown. However, as Mr. Siatos points out, the situation in terms of demand is normalized for almost one month, and as a result prices are almost at the same level compared to the same season last year. According to Mr. Siatos, grower’s prices for Chandler variety is at 4 euros for walnuts with shell and for traditional Greek varieties 3 euros per kilo. Last year’s stock still exists, but has been reduced drastically. It is very soon to make estimates for next year, but surely many acres of land have been cultivated with walnut trees.
Mr. Antonis Tzikas cultivates Ferragnes and Tuono walnut tree varieties in Mount Olympus. As he stated in AgroTypos, this year’s season did not start well for grower’s prices, but lately, demand has been increased. As a result, the price for shelled walnut has increased to 3.70 euros per kilo, from 3.30 euros in the begging of the season.
Mr. Yannis Papadopoulos is an organic farmer and has 40 stremma of walnut trees. He is head of Organic Farmers’ Union in the district of Serres and as he mentioned to AgroTypos, as far as organic walnut is concerned, the product’s sales and prices are not affected at all by the general circumstances, in comparison with non-organic product. Mr. Papadopoulos also commented that organic farmers in Athens face problems in terms of walnut sales, due to the situation in organic markets.
Mr. Dimitris Katsaros, walnut farmer in the city of Giannitsa pointed out to AgroTypos that «I wouldn’t say that prices have decreased, walnut without shell is at 10 -12 euros per kilo and shelled walnut is at 3-4 euros per kilo. It is a dynamic cultivation and relatively easy compared to others, but it is productive after 6-7 years».
Lastly, Mrs Evangelia Lambropoulou is walnut farmer in the district of Fthiotida. She owns 30 stremma and as she told us: «we do not have any problems in selling the product, but surely we were afraid that due to corona virus the product would remain unsold. Thus, we sold it in time, but in low price».
Increase in wheat fields this year due to uncertainty with energy and low cotton prices.
The cultivation of wheat is very good all over Greece, with fast plant growth and good commercial circumstances, as a result of last year’s circumstances and the universally acknowledged increase in grain consumption.
Thanasis Kountrias is an experienced agronomist and shareholder of Agricultural Engineering of Volos. He closely monitors the outcome of wheat cultivation in the district of Magnesia and as he states to AgroTypos, the general appearance of grains is good, they are highly developed, in some cases the presence of fungi is observed, while in some others there is water retention in the fields, that in addition to high ambient temperatures can cause suffocation in plants, favoring crown rot and other diseases that need crop- dusting. At the same time, as Mr. Kountrias told us, the fact that grains are now well developed due to general good weather conditions, they might have difficulties in the following days, if winter comes. In other respects, during this period, as Mr. Kountrias told us, crop - dustings were made using herbicides. In relation to the acres, the shareholder of Agro-Engineering told us that areas with grain have increased a lot because of last year’s good prices and demand, while not so many grains have been planted in the district of Magnesia. Mr. Kountrias also told us that acts of sale are limited, because there is no stock, however there is demand and stored hard wheat costs 26-27 cents per kilo.
Christos Sideropoulos, former head of the Larissa Agricultural Association and experienced grain grower, points out to AgroTypos that crops go very well in terms of cultivation, they are already folded -as they should- and cultivation develops very well, without problems. According to him, some hailstorms in the previous days did not affect the output, which is growing and is now around 15 centimeters. On the contrary, in the area of Larissa, hail problems occurred in vegetable crops. Mr. Sideropoulos, taking into account general conditions and import-export balance, he emphasizes that a price of 25 cents per kilo is possible at the beginning of threshing floors.
Stergios Girgiris, an agronomist from Nea Zichni, in the district of Serres, spoke to AgroTypos pointing out that in areas where water was not kept by many recent rainfalls, wheat cultivation is going very well. In the area of Serres, hard wheat overwhelms soft wheat, while especially this year due to the reduction of areas with oilseed rape for well-known reasons, but also for low cotton prices, the sown acres are much more. However, grains are now in great growth due to the fact that there were no cold weather conditions, that would cause them many difficulties. There is small stock from last year, according to him, while prices are at 25 cents per kilo.
Lastly, head of Agricultural Cooperative of the town of Simantra in Halkidiki, Mr. Vangelis Misailidis pointed out that in this area as well wheat crops are doing very well and without problems. Last year’s stock does not exist and therefore no outputs are carried out this year while prices reached up to 26 cents for the grower. It is reminded that last year the Agricultural Cooperative of Simantra gathered in the threshing floors about 1,300 tons of hard wheat, and they were sold.
Global consumption is rising, according to US Department of Agriculture
In its information note for January 2021, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that global wheat consumption is enhanced by the greater feed needs from China and by manufacture of food, seeds and industrial use from Russia. The world trade is also slightly increased, according to USDA, with the highest exports to Canada, the European Union and India to offset the lower exports to Argentina and Russia. Regarding wheat prices in the US, USDA points out that they are increased from last December for all major product categories. At global level, now, USDA continues, we have increased imports from Morocco due to drought in the last two years. Wheat imports from Morocco usually come from Europe and the Black Sea.
An increasing number of growers are pressing the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food (MADF) because they did not get any financial support due to the pandemic, even though, as they claim, the financial loss incurred was bigger and had negative impact to their income.
According to AgroTypos report, the leadership of the MADF has promised special financial support due to coronavirus not only to late watermelon growers and to edible olive fruit growers (including harvested Kalamata olives), but also to pig farmers, poultry farmers and to growers with greenhouse cultivations (application has already submitted by the region of Trifilia and other regions will follow as well).
Minister of Agricultural Development, Makis Voridis, in his speech to the parliament, pointed out that the ministry is studying the price fluctuation of clementine, large amounts of which were remained unsold and unharvested, throughout growing areas.
At the same time, many of the country’s regions request to include tree growers (pome and stone fruits) to the affected farming by Covid- 19, according to IACS, in order to compensate for loss of income, while the de minimis rule is about to implement for peach and nectarine.
As Makis Antoniadis, head of Agricultural Association of the city of Naousa and member of Tree Growers Federation of Central – Western Macedonia points out to AgroTypos, “as far as de minimis rule payments are concerned, they will be paid on January 2021, as the Greek government has promised. Cooperatives and growers’ organizations have sent to Greek Agricultural Insurance Organization (ELGA) the varieties that have to be compensated. The amounts are precise and growers who suffered real damage must be compensated, otherwise the financial support will be just a bonus. As far as financial support due to corona virus is concerned, if we see prices on the invoices, it seems that this sector is not qualified for this aid. However, we have decreased income due to black market, because peach growers, without their responsibility, paid workers for harvesting, but they cannot justify these expenses, because relevant regulations were not implemented (VAT was not issued due to Independent Authority of Public Income etc.) As a result, growers were taxed for money they do not have and their income for this year is reduced compared to last year”.
A drastic reduction of their income is also recorded by viticulturists, who claim the announcement of a measure same as the one which was subsidized for olive cultivation sector. The MADF says that the green harvest program will be valid for next year (2021). The vast majority of vine growers, however, were excluded from this measure. As Mr. Markos Kafouros, head of Thera Products Cooperatives Association - SantoWines, states in AgroTypos, "the absorption of funds for the green vintage was low and excluded ‘expensive’ varieties (PDO etc.). The crisis distillation measure helped somewhat the market by absorbing some quantities of wine. We need a financial aid to the viticulturists (depending on acres or varieties) to support their income, because prices throughout Greece have fallen. The problem that cooperatives and private wineries will find in 2022 is the large quantities of wine stock. The MADF must find a measure to deal with storage, same as the one implemented in the past”.
We also have dramatic reduction in growers’ price for pistachio nuts. General lockdown in catering and night clubs throughout Europe has resulted in reducing the demand for pistachio nuts. We face extreme situations, as merchants give offers even for 4.5 – 5 euros per kilo for open nuts. As Makis Bourgos, producer and member of the Board of Directors of the Pistachio Growers Agricultural Cooperative in the region of Makri, points out to AgroTypos, "the cooperatives of the district of Fthiotida (Agricultural Cooperative ‘Pistachio Nut of Molos – Thermopilae’ and Agricultural Cooperative of Pistachio Growers of Makri), which is the most important pistachio growing region in the country, have sent a request to the MADF in order to support growers due to bad circumstances in the pistachio market.”
Meanwhile, an increasing number of breeders’ organizations request additional financial aid for sheep and goat breeders who did not manage to include themselves to the four-euro measure, because they did not deliver any milk. Although breeder’s price for milk was increased, there is a high increase in cattle feed prices as well, which results in reducing breeders’ income. Cow breeders have the same problem with cattle feed as well. According to them, the average price for cow milk in Greece for about six months is 40 cents per kilo (they give 42 cents in Northern Greece and 38 cents in Southern Greece).
There is an increasing number of people who ask for support for cotton growers who are in dire financial state due to falling prices. The Agricultural Association of Farmers of the Municipality of Alexandria and Cooperative THESTO, request support for growers. In his letter, Christos Souliotis, head of THESTO, requires from the minister, Makis Voridis, to take seriously into account the need to strengthen cotton cultivation. Interbranch organization has also submitted a request to the MADF for aid due to Covid.
Flower growers were compensated for the first quarantine, but they are asking again for aid for the second quarantine as well, due to Covid-19. As Mr. Athanasios Kelmager, flower grower and head of the Flower Growers’ Agricultural Cooperative in Athens (AASA), points out to AgroTypos, “central flower market opened on Wednesday (16/12). Flower shops remain closed. There is a lot of financial loss in the industry. Flower is a fresh product that cannot be stored. The fields have their own costs and we also pay labor costs while the market is closed for our products and we are forced to throw them away ".
Melon producers also face serious problems. Mr. Grigoris Masouras, melon grower from the town of Epanomi, near Thessaloniki, points out to AgroTypos that this year has been very difficult. Specifically, he says that "this year prices reached up to 20 to 25 cents per kilo, due to reduced demand, whereas last year we sold melons at 60-65 cents per kilo. The market is dead, nothing is moving”. The problem with melon growers is that they do not have strong groups or cooperatives and thus they cannot press the ministry leadership to include them in the financial aid due to Covid-19.
MEPs approved provisions to ensure a smooth transition from the current EU farm policy to the future one and €8 billion in aid for food producers and rural areas.
A new EU law, approved on Wednesday by 653 votes in favour to 19 against, with 22 abstentions, extends the application of existing Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) rules until the end of 2022. This ensures that payments to farmers and rural development beneficiaries can continue.
Thanks to MEPs, member states will be able to make it easier for farmers to receive compensation for severe drops in income and for losses caused by adverse climatic events, outbreaks of animal or plant diseases or pest infestations. Parliament also pushed through measures that give member states more leeway in supporting farmers, especially during the COVID-19 crisis.
MEPs also managed to extend the duration of new multiannual rural development projects that focus on organic farming and climate and environmentally-friendly measures beyond three years, and included animal welfare projects in the package.
Speeding up delivery of €8 billion in aid to farmers
Recently agreed rules on ways that farmers, food producers and rural areas can use the €8 billion in COVID-19 crisis aid to finance their resilient, sustainable and digital recovery in the next two years are also part of the overall deal. Around 30% of the recovery money will become available in 2021, and the remaining 70% would be released in 2022.
MEPs managed to secure at least 37% of the recovery funding for organic farmers, for environment and climate-related actions and for animal welfare. At least 55% of the fund will support on-farm investments that contribute to a resilient, sustainable and digital recovery and young farmers’ start-ups.
“The new EU law we have approved today is of utmost importance for our farmers as it provides legal certainty and financial aid to help the crisis-stricken food sector recover over the next two years. It is a solid bridge towards future rules, which gives farmers and national administrations sufficient time to prepare for the post-2022 CAP reform”, said Elsi Katainen (RE, FI), rapporteur on the transitional EU farm policy rules.
“This is not a simple extension of the status quo. We are providing our farmers, food producers and rural communities with an ambitious toolkit and the funding necessary to increase resilience, sustainability and to digitalise the sector so that they can engage more actively with climate change adaptation and mitigation”, said Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT), rapporteur on the EU recovery aid.
The text agreed by MEPs and member states and endorsed in the Parliament still needs a green light from the Council before it can enter into force.
The draft regulation is the second of two proposals tabled by the EU Commission to ensure a smooth transition to the post-2022 CAP. The first set of transitional rules was approved by the Parliament in December 2019.
Negotiations between the Parliament and Council on the final shape of the post-2022 EU farm policy reform are now ongoing.