Power plants: choking rope for sunflower – Farmers stopped sowing – Economic Post

Power plants: choking rope for sunflower – Farmers stopped sowing – Economic Post

The producers of energy crops and mainly sunflower, who, when they should now be in the fields to sow, at this critical moment, have stopped growing.

Reason, the low price announced by the industries of 35 cents/acre which makes the culture unprofitable. The corresponding price they received for last year’s production was 50 cents/acre. “A loss of 15 cents/acre means the death of the grower and the crop,” farmers say.

Energy plants: Crops are withering – Growers are at an impasse

On the one hand, the high prices of agricultural supplies and raw materials, which have pushed the production costs of crops to unimaginable levels, but also the low price offered by refineries to biodiesel companies, which also affects the price of producers, have created a stranglehold, driving farmers away from their fields.

In recent years, about 1 to 1.2 million hectares of sunflowers have been sown from Orestiada to Larissa, with the agricultural income from energy crops reaching 100,000,000 euros. Especially in the prefecture of Evros, the cultivation of sunflower occupies about 300,000 to 350,000 acres per year (nearly 50% of cultivation nationwide), being the main crop choice for growers.

Agriculture is no longer profitable

Today, the cost for the producer of the cultivation of irrigated sunflower amounts to approximately 120 euros/ha and of dry sunflower to approximately 80 euros/ha, a consequence of the particularly high prices of raw materials.

With an average yield for irrigated sunflower of 350 kg/ha, this means that with current contract prices of 350-370 Euro/t, growing sunflower is considered unprofitable as it is not even enough to cover the costs. of production. And this because the producer’s income corresponds to 130 euros/hectare, while for dry sunflower with an average yield of 190 kg/hectare, the income amounts to around 70 euros/hectare.

“The expenses for us are running. At the moment it is a question of whether half of the acres have been sown due to the low price of 350 euros/acre”, says the president of the Agricultural Cooperative of Dimitriak Orestiada “The Union”, Mr. Lampis Koumbridis, to OT.

In order to keep the cultivation of energy sunflower sustainable, to cover the costs and to bring income to the producer, as he explains to us, the prices must be at least 450 euros/tonne. “What we are asking for is a good price to be able to continue cultivating. If there is no price then why should we sow and produce?”, underlines Mr. Koumbridis.

Sowing stopped

The president of the Hellenic Agricultural Association of Energy Plant Producers, Mr. Stergios Littos, is also sounding the alarm, stressing to OT that if the serious problems are not addressed immediately, then cultivable acres will be drastically reduced.

After all, the price offered by companies to growers for energy sunflower is directly affected by the price offered by refineries.

“35 cents/kg makes harvesting unprofitable. At this time, we should be sowing, but everything has stopped. What we are asking is that the distribution be done, that the contracts be signed from the companies to the processors and from the processors to the farmers and that there is stability, as we have had for 15 years”, notes Mr Littos.

Tragic consequences

The Prime Minister of Orestiada has already sent a letter to the Prime Minister, describing the situation experienced by the producers, asking for support for the cultivation of sunflowers.

It underlines, among other things, that sunflower is a crop that does not receive tied support, so the producer does not have to wait for additional support from somewhere, it is grown by more than 40,000 families in the country, it is one of the rare outlets for producers, especially in the Evros region, helps productivity since it is mainly used in infertile soils, with low inputs of phytosanitary products and fertilizer, which contributes to the protection of the environment and the fight against climate change, and at the same time it is an excellent beekeeping plant.

Especially in the northern region of Evros, “with the permanent closure of the sugar factory, with the discrediting of dynamic crops such as garlic and asparagus, with non-existent work alternatives, with the threat of demography in an area of ​​particular importance, where we keep Thermopylae, if this discredits and the cultivation of sunflowers, then we fear that the consequences will be tragic for our region”.

Production absorption uncertain

In paragraph five, shortly before the definitive closing of the sunflower sowing window, the Association of Greek Biodiesel Manufacturers (SVIBE) warns of the unpleasant turn the situation may take since the question of the distribution of the biodiesel production is still open, not the contracts with companies have been signed, so the absorption of farmers’ production is uncertain.

The impossibility of “closing” the relevant agreements is due, as the SBIBE pointed out, to the “conscious or unconscious refusal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to apply the law”, which has led to the impossibility for almost all biodiesel producers to enter into contracts with Greek farmers.

Indeed, as the SVIBE points out, despite the commitments of the environment and rural development ministers to comply with the provisions of the law, there has been no progress to date “as a result of which we quickly lead to the destruction of the crops of energy plants in our country and the loss of an important income for 25,000 farming families, the only beneficiaries of this development being the importers of quantities from third countries and those who do not respect not what the legislation provides with the tolerance of the ministries”.

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