April Frost Damaged Third of Expected Fruit Crops in Slovakia

(Stock photo by TASR/AP)

Nitra, April 28 (TASR) – Slovak fruit growers have lost around one third of their expected crops this year due to frost in the second half of April, with the damage reaching around €8 million, TASR learnt on Friday.

“We produce around 60,000 tonnes of fruit per year, but it seems that it will only be 40,000 tonnes this year,” said Fruit Growers Union president Marian Varga, adding that fruit growers expect the Government’s help in this situation.

Meanwhile, it’s projected that the damage will also be translated into fruit prices, which may grow by as much as 10 percent this year.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) on Friday repeatedly praised farmers for their efforts to minimise the damage following frost alerts issued last week by the Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute (SHMU) and the Agriculture Ministry itself.

“They smoked and bedewed [orchards], they also burned paraffin candles. The frost wasn’t only close to the ground; temperatures were as low as minus 4 degrees Celsius at an altitude of two metres. This jeopardised the crops, but we aren’t able to assess the exact amount of damage at the moment. Nevertheless, the prime minister [Robert Fico] has already stated that the Government will help farmers and especially fruit growers in this situation,” said Matecna.

Slovak Agriculture and Food Chamber Milan Semancik, meanwhile, believes that the recurring problems with negative effects of climate phenomena need to be addressed in a systematic way.

“We’re appealing to the ministry as soon as possible to make the funding of risk governance and refunding of part of insurance premiums a reality,” said Semancik.

“If we find consensus among all the parties involved in shaping the risk fund, we’ll move forward,” said Matecna, adding that further talks with the Finance Ministry, insurers and farmers are needed.