The apple producers in Agia Larissa are in despair, because of the difficulties that have arisen in exporting their produce to Egypt, and are being forced to sell at prices below cost.
Specifically, as concerns the Gala variety, which is mainly an exportable product, great difficulties appear in handling, export and marketing. In Egypt, a country which was the main market for this variety, there is a capital control regime, as a result of which the export of apples and payment becomes prohibitive. The quantities that have been exported are only a fraction of past shipments.
At the same time, the cost of production has unbearable with the exorbitant increases in fuel, electricity, fertilizers, other means and supplies for the crops, while as the farmers of Agia say, there are still unused quantities of last year’s apple crop in refrigerators.
“Under this pretext traders offer much lower prices, almost half compared to last year, or they trade apples mainly with the so-called “open prices”, that is, farmers do not know how much money and when they will be paid for their production, while the cultivation costs continue to increase as well as living expenses of their families”, as a joint statement of the United Federation of Agricultural Associations of Larisa Prefecture and the Agricultural Associations of the Municipality of Agia pointed out in .
On top of everything else, the farmers have to cope with the negative consequences on the price of apples due to the embargo on Russia imposed by the EU with the agreement of all Greek governments since 2014 and also the recent embargo due to the war in Ukraine.
The result of all these factors, as the apple growers of Agia point out, is that apples are traded at prices below production costs, that farmers are unable to pay for cultivation costs, tools and supplies, that there is no income to support their families, with the visible risk of many abandoning agriculture. “As a consequence, Agia will experience a general deterioration since the income from apples determines the entire social life of the region”, warn the farmers.
The Agricultural Associations of the Municipality of Agia request that there be financial support for the producers of Agia that will cover the loss of income, taking into account the increased, almost doubled production costs compared to last year. Farmers want the government should take the necessary initiatives and through interstate agreements with Egypt and other countries to which the Gala variety is exported to manage the absorption of apples. Such agreements have already been made by other countries, eg Italy, Poland.
They also request lowest guaranteed prices for agricultural products, which will cover production costs and leave a sustainable income, a living wage that ensures the continuation of farming activity, as well as immediate measures to reduce production costs. Tax-free oil, abolition of the clause of readjustment and reduction of the price of electricity, subsidy for the purchase of means and supplies and abolition of VAT.