Russia-EU Embargo Destroying Croatian Fruit Growers

Total Croatia News

EU’s latest decision will make the situation worse.

It is now certain that the European Commission will abolish the programme to withdraw products from the fruit and vegetable market, which has been introduced as an aid to ease market disturbances due to the Russian embargo on agricultural products. “We have to inform our fruit growers in order to prepare them in time because this year the European Commission has not approved the measure, unlike in recent years,” said Stjepan Zorić, vice-president of the Croatian Fruit Community (HVZ), pointing out that the programme was the only thing which enabled farmers to survive the embargo, reports Glas Slavonije on July 17, 2018.

“The programme was abolished because other EU member states were not really interested in it, which is quite telling. They have found mechanisms to help their farmers overcome this crisis of surplus agricultural products in the EU market and the fall in prices caused by the Russian embargo,” Zorić explained, recalling that at the time when the Russian embargo was introduced, experts talked about 7.5 billion euro worth of surplus agricultural products in the European market.

“This measure has become unattractive to other members because their farmers have achieved better business results by selling their products to other markets. For us, this was a crucially important measure because we received 3.50 kuna per kilogram for the second class of apples, while in the domestic market we receive 1.50 kuna per kilogram for the first class. The other aspect was the knowledge that we are going to be paid quickly, because the money was paid by the European Commission, and it is well known that Croatian buyers usually pay us with a one year delay or never,” said Zorić, adding that another reason for the abolition of the European measure could be the reports about possible abolition of the Russian embargo in late summer. “Honestly, we would like the Russian embargo to be abolished. It has caused us a lot of problems, not because we exported a lot of products to Russia, but because of the over 7.5 billion euro worth of surplus products which flooded the European market.”

The second EU measure which has had a positive effect on all European producers in the market is the school fruit scheme. However, there were problems in Croatia since family farms were not listed in the original decision by the Ministry of Agriculture as potential beneficiaries of the measure, which was changed last year.

“In implementing this measures, aimed at improving school children’s nutrition and assisting in the development of the local agricultural market, we initially had major problems because schools did not want to cooperate with local producers. That changed only last year,” said Zorić. “The measure should be set so that it is really to the benefit of local manufacturers.”

“We again call on the representatives of owners of schools, town and municipal mayors, because without their support we will again not be able to accomplish everything we want,” explained Zorić, calling on them to understand that it is not possible for all small producers to have suitable storage and packaging facilities.

Translated from Glas Slavonije.

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