We still need help with failing crops, say Latvian farmers

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Heavy rain over the last few days has done little to help farmers in the western Kurzeme region and southern Kurzeme region of Latvia who want financial assistance as a result of crops impacted by a long period of dry and sunny weather in May, they told LTV June 25.

Several Zemgale municipalities have joined the request of Kurzeme municipalities for the announcement of a state of emergency as a result of drought. Depending on the type of soil, the yields in some places could shrink even by half, and vegetables - even by 100%, it is claimed.

The most commonly used crop in Zemgale is winter wheat, which is fairly resistant to drought. This year, however, the plants are already dead in many places.

"There is nothing left to be saved by this rain. Maybe this rain was good for lawns. Cereals may also be able to absorb more nutrients, but the grain harvest already forms in May and early June, and hence the grain yield will be negatively affected. Yes, we believe that there is also an emergency here," says Oskars Balodis, head of the Crop Growing Division of the Latvian Rural Advisory Center.

"There has never been such a drought. For the last two months we've seen just 13 millimeters," says Kaspars Duge of the Tereņi farm.

According to Tamara Biseniece, Managing Director of the Meistari farm, cabbages and onions have been severely affected though there are hopes that the potato crop can be salvaged. "We need an emergency situation declared. That could change things. I think it reflects the real situation in the fields," he says.

In contrast Arturs Kims, owner of the Kimjani farm says his garlic yield will be down by around 20%, not as a result of drought but as a result of a very wet autumn.

Soil conditions also play a part, with farms on clay soil seeming to fair better than those with faster-draining soil.

"This is a game of luck. This year is better, next year is worse, and so on. It is not that there is a crisis and nothing will grow any more. Those fields are not so bad that you could say something like that," said Kims.

More than twenty municipalities, mostly from Kurzeme, have requested the announcement of an emergency situation in agriculture. The decision to make such a request was also taken in Rundāle, Tērvete and Jelgava counties.

The crisis management council will decide on whether and in which regions to declare an emergency on 26 June. Doing so will unlock various financial instruments for farmers. An emergency situation was declared in large parts of the eastern Latgale region last year due to floods, and before that due to the spread of African swine fever in pigs. 


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