By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of The Sofia Globe.
About 25 000 hectares of Bulgaria’s wheat have been destroyed by recent heavy rains, ruining about 25 per cent of the expected harvest, while the deluges also have obliterated various fruit and vegetable crops in parts of Bulgaria.
Speaking to public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio on June 22, at the close of a weekend that followed deadly floods along much of the country’s Black Sea coastal areas, agriculture minister Dimitar Grekov said that most of the affected wheat crops were in the Dobrudhza area.
On June 19, which saw fatal flooding in Varna’s Asparouhovo area as well as in Dobrich and further inland at Veliko Turnovo, Shabla in the Dobrudzha area of Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast was hit by 184 litres a sq m of rain.
Ironically, inundation of a quarter of this year’s harvest came just a few days after Grekov had predicted a record harvest of five million tons of grain for bread, a figure which would have been the best for the past eight to nine years.
Now, it seems, grain prices could rise as farmers undertake extra costs to dry wheat to keep its quality from being damaged.
Grekov said that the heavy rains meant that grain should be harvested from the fields as quickly as possible. He said that there was no risk to bread supplies in Bulgaria and the worst-affected by the floods were the producers.
Assessments of damage to crops would be compiled by the time of a scheduled meeting on June 24 of the grain advisory council. Grekov called on farmers to submit declarations of damage to the agriculture ministry’s regional directorates.
Separate reports said that heavy rains had destroyed crops including potatoes and tomatoes, in places up to 70 per cent, in the Rousse area.
Torrential rains had swept away earth, exposing potato crops. One farmer told reporters that he could save only 30 per cent of his potato crop. Much of the crops was blighted and attacked by pests.
About 40 per cent of tomato crops in the Rousse area were reported spoilt, while other crops that had been damaged by deluging rains included garlic, beans and pepper.
Apricots were among fruit crops seriously negatively affected by the heavy rains.
Already, according to local media, fruit growers in the area had been complaining that they could not find people to hire as seasonal labourers to pick fruit because wages were low through a lack of government subsidies.