Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Drought a serious blow to Balkans agriculture

The Oman Daily Observer: An unprecedented drought in the Balkans has dealt a serious blow to agriculture, causing grave losses estimated at more than a billion euros in one of Europe’s poorest regions. Temperatures over the past week in the southeastern European region have soared to more than 40 degrees Celsius, with no rains in most areas. After being hammered by a particularly rough winter with plummeting temperatures and record snowfall, Bosnia is now sweltering through its hottest summer since records began 120 years ago.

Sead Jelec of the National Association of Farmers said the country’s agricultural losses are estimated at between 30 and 40 per cent. The “total value of agriculture production in Bosnia is around one billion euros ($1.25 billion). We can say that the losses would be around 300 million euros,” Jelec said. The drought had especially hit corn crops, but also fruits and pastures. Croatia’s national agricultural chamber estimated the losses for that country at more than 134 million euros, chamber chairman Matija Brlosic said.

Several regions have declared a state of emergency, including the eastern Slavonia area, Croatia’s main agricultural producing region, where the drought has ravaged fields and left sunflowers browned and withered on their stalks. “Slavonia has literally been devastated. Cultures planted in spring are in a catastrophic state and the losses are estimated at between 60 and 100 per cent,” Brlosic said. Of around 1.5 million hectares of farming land in Croatia, only 18,000 are covered with irrigation systems.

In Serbia, initial loss estimates are close to one billion euros, a government source said. Particularly hard hit is the northern province of Vojvodina, nicknamed “Serbia’s granary,” with production estimated to top out at just 50 per cent of normal. More than one million hectares have been hit, mostly of corn, maize and soya, the agriculture ministry said, prompting the government to adopt a package with measures to assist farmers and their fields....

Beehives in Bosnia, shot by Tamas Ring, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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