The PASOK-KINAL Member of Parliament for Rodopi asked for the immediate compensation of cotton producers and corn producers of the Rhodope region for the losses in production as a consequence of the prevailing dry-thermal conditions in August and the stormy winds, with a topical question that was discussed on Monday afternoon in the Plenary Session of the Parliament Ilhan Ahmed, responding to the universal demand of the rural world of the region. The question turned into a topical one, after the written answer of the deputy minister, which did not convince the rural people of the region.
MP sees 50% damage
This time in the Parliament, Ilhan Ahmed asked the present Deputy Minister of Rural Development & Food, Dionysis Stamenitis, if the government intends to immediately and fairly compensate the cotton growers and corn growers of the Rhodopes “who were affected by the combination of heat conditions and stormy winds that prevailed almost throughout August in Rhodope”.
The MP talked about a 50% reduction in cotton and underlined that a similar problem is also found in corn. That is why he asked again, if it is in the plans of the HYPAAT to include the combination of heat waves and stormy winds among the reasons for compensation from ELGA, with resources provided by the new CAP and linked to climate change, without a simultaneous increase in insurance premiums for producers. And finally, if the competent ministry intends to reduce the ceiling that the cotton producers of the Rhodope must deliver to OPEKEPE.
Under 20% damage answers the deputy minister
In his introduction, the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Food, Dionysis Stamenitis, repeated what he had answered in writing, that is, according to the ELGA regulation, farmers cannot be compensated.
He also emphasized that based on the official data “we cannot talk about a heat wave or a windstorm” in August in the Rhodopes, explaining in detail that “according to the meteorological data available from the Center for Meteorological Applications (KME) of ELGA through the National Meteorological Service (EMY) and the Observatory, the temperatures in the Rhodope region were well below 40 degrees Celsius. So we can’t talk about heatwave. Correspondingly, in terms of the wind, it was much lower than 8 Beaufort. So we can’t even talk about a windstorm.”
According to the deputy minister, damages observed during the markings of ELGA’s geotechnical engineers in the field fell far short of the minimum compensated rate of 20%.
Where are we with the older compensations?
In the margin of the same answer, Dionysis Stamenitis informed, however, that “of the damages for the year 2020 which were of the order of 700,000 for Rhodope, 650,000 euros have already been paid from April 2022. The remaining amount includes those who have not they had paid their insurance obligations on time. The payment of the rest of 2022 is planned for the beginning of November 2023. For the damages of 2023, the ones covered by insurance, the estimates for 880 damage declarations that were submitted have been completed and the compensation will be paid after cross-checking these with the IACS file of 2023”.
Harsh review by Ilhan Ahmed
Responding to the prologue of the responsible deputy minister, Ilhan Ahmed severely criticized the actions of the government in the agricultural sector in Rhodope, explaining that beyond the ELGA there are other possibilities to compensate farmers, such as State Financial Aids or De Minimis. He also emphasized the immediate necessity of a reduction in the ceiling of 188 kilograms, in order to stop the phenomenon of producers buying cotton from their colleagues in order to get the required kilograms and get the associated support.
“You don’t have to wait until the end of the cotton growing and picking season to see if you’re going to cut the cap. You have to protect the farmer from profiteering, since it is a given and it doesn’t cost you anything to reduce the ceiling” he demanded emphatically.
The reduction of the ceiling in Rhodope is being studied
The Deputy Minister of Agricultural Development & Food, Dionysis Stamenitis, in his deputation, announced that the arbitrary reduction of the minimum yield per hectare contradicts the strategic plan of the country’s CAP and entails penalties. The possibility of reducing the minimum yield due to force majeure is being studied, however, in cases where this is sufficiently documented. “We are in contact with representatives of the producers to investigate the way of implementation and that in any case the amendment of the SSKAP that will be sent for approval includes a proposal to reduce the minimum yield from 2024, which will be defined at the regional unit level based on the average of the actual yield per hectare of the five-year period 2016-2020, but it will be the amount reduced by 30% and not 20%, which is valid today” he noted in detail, finally reminding that at the moment the ceiling in the Rhodope for cotton is 188 kg per hectare.