The crisis in Ukraine has made it difficult for the apple orchards of the Agricultural Cooperative of Naoussa (ACN) in northern Greece.
"The fruits we grow here are among the first ones that are hit in the markets," Kostas Tabakiaris, the cooperative's president, said. The ACN produces an average of 20,000 tons of fruits per year for the domestic and international markets. They grow peaches, nectarines, cherries, apples, apricots, plums, lotus and kiwis.
Before Russia banned all imports of fresh produce from the European Union (EU) in 2014 in response to EU sanctions on Russian banks and businesses, 70 percent of the cooperative's production was exported to Russia, and in recent years at least 20 percent was sold in Ukraine, Tabakiaris stated.
In Greece, where agricultural commodities account for one-third of the country's total exports, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has forced farmers to scramble for new markets and to simultaneously press the government for aid to keep them afloat, they told Xinhua in interviews.
"Directly and indirectly, Greece is losing some 400 to 500 million euros (422-527 million U.S. dollars) in revenues per year from exports of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables," George Polychronakis, special counselor of INCOFRUIT-HELLAS, the Association of Greek Export and Consignment Enterprises for Fruits, Vegetables and Juices, told Xinhua in Athens.
About half of the losses are directly linked to the suspension of exports to Ukraine, Russia and Belarus (some 160,000 tons, accounting for 10 percent of all exports in 2020-2021), and the other half is caused by a drop in consumption and a downward pressure on prices across the EU due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, he explained.
Before the 2014 ban, which is still in effect, approximately 12 percent of Greece's exports of fresh produce went to the Russian market, Polychronakis said.