Latvian farmers concerned about drought

Due to drought and shortages of rainfall, harvests could be worse than expected, say crop farmers. Livestock farmers are also concerned about the weather, Latvian Television reported on May 26.

Farmers of various agricultural branches have already been dealt heavy blows. Fruit and berry growers have lost a lot of yields due to frost, currant growers have been affected by a pest, whereas dairy farmers suffer from low buying prices. The drought now deals another dysfunctional card for farmers.

The owner of the farm Druvas Lauris Ikaunieks who has 120 cows and several calves, as well as grain. If the situation is poor in dairy farming, usually the grain income helps. But if the drought continues, the yield will be low.

“If it gets drier, more tropical, then rains will also come to us. We cannot predict that there will only be drought. Maybe dry is just this year. I cannot imagine a solution for the future,” he said.

Regulated amelioration systems are used elsewhere in the world, fields are watered, but it would be difficult to create them in Latvia, the farmer said.

Elsewhere in Latgale this week, pumpkins are sown. Dust rises when the tractor drives over the field but in general there is still enough moisture in the soil, said Gustavs Norkārklis, owner of the farm Salenieki.

"Vegetables now have their sowing time. With the early vegetables it will be harder, there will be a smaller harvest. But I'm more worried about rain and wet weather. Then I can't do anything, but if there is a drought, then there are many different versions. The most primitive, the simplest, to water," Norkārklis said.

Norkārklis, who heads the Latvian Association of Biological Farms, said that strawberry growers in Latvia also use more sophisticated watering systems. The ways to live with drought are different. Watering systems can also involve co-financing of European Union funds, but he pointed out that it is too late now to find a solution, because one needs to look at it in the long term. "Production must be planned for 10, 20 years forward," he explained.

Drought also affects the planting of new forests, prepared furrows quickly dry up.

The large farms will survive, but it will be harder for the small ones, say farmers, gathering their organization's information on the drought-stricken fields.

Juris Lazdiņš, Chairman of the Board of the Farmers' Saeima, said that “compared to last year, the situation is sad”.

“At the moment, dairy farms are carrying out the first mow of grass, the harvest has not yielded particularly well, and in the case of the grain sector, the situation is also disappointing because of the fact that sown volumes have not even sprung up,” said Lazdiņš.

Farmers are now considering what to do further because losses following floods and drought in 2017 were huge.

"The size of these losses ranges from 100 to 300 million. Consequently, you may turn to the government, but the amount of money will certainly not be available to the government. But there is another option that we will try to use: turning to the risk fund in the European Union," Juris Lazdiņš said.

Other countries affected by drought or flooding can also benefit from this aid. Meanwhile, in Latvia, farmers are still looking forward to rains that could save the harvests.

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