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Italy: Jonic area in difficulty because of torrential downpours

The Cia (Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori) in Taranto repots that the abundant rainfall of the past few days is causing problems in the province of Taranto. At the moment, it is still difficult to estimate the damage.

Ginosa, Castellaneta, Laterza and the municipalities in the Eastern part, from San Giorgio to Avetrana, were particularly hit as many hectares of vegetables, vineyards, orchards and citrus groves were completely destroyed and houses and warehouses were also damaged. Some territories had already been destroyed by flooding in 2003 and 2011 and many farmers are still waiting for compensation.

Rain makes rural roads impassable and access to farms is impossible because of mud and debris. 

The Cia sent a telegram to Fabrizio Nardoni, Councillor for Agri-food resources in Puglia, and Giuseppe Marti, Manager for the Province office for Agriculture, to ask for a swift assessment of the damage and for the implementation of procedures to help the producers affected by this situation.

The Cia demands urgent measures for the declaration of the state of natural disaster.

The floods, constant rain and strong winds of the past few days have badly hit the agricultural sector, especially in the Lecce and Taranto provinces, so much so that even Coldiretti Puglia activated a crisis unit to help isolated farmers. Technicians started assessing the situation on 9th October 2013.

In the Lecce province, Leverano, Nardò and Galatina were affected as fields were completely covered in water and the damage also spread to greenhouses and mushroom beds. In the Taranto province, and especially in the area around Ginosa, where there have been some victims and people are still missing, the water dragged away olive groves, vineyards and cultivated fields. Various structures are also isolated as all connections are down.

There is not only damage to crops, but also to structures. Landslides, collapsed dry walls and flooded buildings contribute to the dramatic situation.

"It is fundamental to recognise that farmers have an essential role in the management of the territory, the environment and rural areas. These must be safeguarded to prevent such calamities, so the funds of the Civil Protection must be made available also to them," urges Antonio De Concilio, chairman of Coldiretti Puglia.

Flooded street

"The Metapontino area is rather big and includes 50 km. Only 15 were affected by the weather, but in some cases they were the epicentre of the downpour. Policoro, Pisticci, Bernarda/Metaponto and Ginosa are the municipalities hit," says agronomist Slavatore Pecchia from the Asso Fruit Italia Technical office.

"It rained a few days ago, so the land wasn't really workable. Then it rained from 6 to 11 pm on 7th October, and more than 200 mm fell (only 0.8 were expected). Vegetable and strawberry crops have been damaged."

According to Pecchia, the problems they must now face are the inaccessibility of the land for strawberry transplants and the landslides in citrus groves which dragged many trees away. "Many stone fruits are cultivated in this area too, but luckily they have already been harvested so there shouldn't be many problems."

As regards vegetables, it is estimated that there will be 30-35% less produce, as only part of the Metapontino area was hit. Table grape harvesting is also a problem as the land is not accessible and 20% of the total is is likely damaged.

Source: Cia Taranto / Coldiretti Puglia / FreshPlaza

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