Greece is still reeling from the catastrophic floods triggered by Storm Daniel in early September, with a profound impact on the country’s agricultural sector and economy.
The aftermath of the storm has left a trail of destruction, including the devastation of fruit trees, corn crops, and approximately one-fifth of Greece’s cotton harvest. Over 200,000 animals and poultry perished in the deluge.
Experts estimate that the immediate consequences of this natural disaster could cost the Greek economy up to 5 billion euros ($5.3 billion; £4.3 billion).
One of the regions hardest hit is the Thessaly plain, a vital agricultural area with concerns mounting about its future food production capacity.
In the farming village of Vlochos, Anthoula Pappa and her family have lost everything. Their home was nearly submerged in the floodwaters, leaving behind a scene of ruined possessions covered in thick mud. They now reside in tents and have received assistance from volunteers but claim to have received no help from authorities.
Many residents blame the government for inadequate assistance. Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, pledged swift aid for flood victims but faced criticism from affected citizens who deemed the government’s response insufficient.
Thanassis Thodos, a walnut orchard owner in the nearby village of Lefki, revealed the extent of the damage to his orchard. Half of his thousand trees were destroyed, and the remaining trees may be diseased. The damage extends to equipment like electric motors and water pipes, leaving farmers uncertain about the state’s compensation.
Thessaly, often referred to as Greece’s “breadbasket,” comprises about 20% of the country’s agricultural land and plays a crucial role in the Greek cotton crop, a significant export. While replanting certain crops is feasible in the coming months, restoring orchards and livestock herds will be a more extended process.
The damage extends beyond agriculture to infrastructure, municipality services, roads, schools, and healthcare facilities. The risk of a mass population exodus from affected areas to cities looms large if the restoration does not occur promptly.
Professor Spiros Kintzios, the rector of Greece’s Agricultural University, warned that the direct immediate cost to the Greek economy could reach 4 to 5 billion euros, with long-term costs tripling that figure if the worst-case scenario materializes.
At a cotton factory in Palamas village, Petropoulos Vangelis lamented the loss of this year’s cotton crop, predicting reduced production for those who managed to salvage their fields. Rising prices due to crop and infrastructure damage are a growing concern among the local population.
Themis Apostolakis in the village of Koskinas reflected on the grim outlook, noting that their cotton and corn crops for the year are lost, and the polluted water complicates any rebuilding efforts. Uncertainty looms large over the future of farming in the region.
The aftermath of Storm Daniel has left a deep and lasting impact on Greece’s agricultural heartland, raising serious concerns about food production, economic recovery, and the fate of affected communities.