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Italy: Bad weather in Puglia - damage assessment starts in the Taranto province

The damage caused by the extraordinarily bad weather, which killed people and hit hundreds of commercial farms in the Taranto province, has amounted to €50 million so far, 10% of the Gross Saleable Production of the whole area.

The Ionic area is quite wide and includes Ginosa, Metapontino, Laterza, Castellaneta, Palagiano and Palagianello. The disaster involved all of the productions, but the vegetable sector is the worst off, as autumn and winter vegetables had just been transplanted and have been washed away. Hundreds of hectares have been flooded and vineyards and groves have been destroyed.

One producer from Castellaneta said, "Roads have been destroyed, many bridges are inaccessible and the Lato river has overflowed. It is very difficult to continue harvesting table grapes because we cannot reach the land. We are waiting on damage assessment, but it keeps on raining. We have around 80 hectares of table grapes (Italia, Palieri, Red Glove and Midnight) and we had just started harvesting (2%) but had to stop. Our main markets are abroad, so of course shipments will be delayed. At the moment we are isolated."

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The situation was also confirmed by a business consultant from the Ginosa area: "It rained for 4 days non-stop, many roads and bridges are unusable and 4 people have died. I follow a commercial farm that produces table grapes for the domestic and foreign markets and it will be impossible to assess damage and understand how the situation might evolve before Saturday at the very least. The company was harvesting the Crimson variety and the produce was excellent. Delays in exports are expected, for example grapes destined to the UK will only be shipped on Monday."

The Salento area was also affected: crops in Leverano, Nardò and Galatina are badly damaged as fields were flooded and greenhouses and mushroom beds were damaged.

In Brindisi, hundreds of hectares near the ditches of the Arneo consortium were flooded.

The situation is different near Bari, as a producer from Rutigliano confirms: "Only a few millimetres of rain fell and there are no problems in the grape areas, so harvesting continues."

As regards Taranto, the producer says that problems are caused not so much by rain but due to two rivers overflowing and flooding adjacent fields. "Of course, in addition to vegetable crops, vineyards and citrus groves were also damaged. In the Ginosa area, where early grapes are usually cultivated, much of the harvesting had already been carried out in August and September, luckily."

"We have requested natural disaster status so all of procedures can be promptly activated. The area had already been hit in 2010 and 2011 and commercial farms are still waiting for answers. The intervention system has to be lighter, as there is too much bureaucracy and allocation times are biblical."

The structures were also damaged. Landslides, collapsed dry walls and interrupted connections contribute to the dramatic situation.

Concerning the delays in table grape supply, Lucien de Wit, from the Dutch PeDe importing company, comments: "It is still difficult to evaluate what the effects will be. Until now, the season had been going well - both demand and quality were good, with acceptable prices. Demand increased last Monday, and so quotations also increased. PeDe has and will have sufficient amounts of grapes available, as shipments will depart from Sicily rather than from Puglia, as loads are more manageable over there."

Source: Coldiretti Puglia / FreshPlaza / AGF

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