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Drought haunts farmers in Poland, Baltic states

Poland’s prime minister on Wednesday warned of “very significant” crop losses as the EU country scrambled to help farmers struggling to cope with an unusual spring drought amid soaring temperatures.

Farmers in the nearby Baltic EU states of Latvia and Lithuania are also facing drought, with Latvian officials due to consider declaring a state of emergency on Thursday, according to the BNS Baltic News Service.

Dry weather has affected half of Poland’s farmland with cereal crops most at risk, according to Poland’s Institute of Soil Science and Plant Cultivation (IUNG).

The drought in “June is worse than in the worst dry years of 2006 and 2015, so losses may turn out to be very significant,” rightwing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters in Warsaw.

Speaking alongside him, new farms minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski vowed to present a package of measures to help farmers cope in the coming weeks, without going into details.

Deputy farms minister Jacek Bogucki on Tuesday estimated that losses caused by the drought were “unprecedented”, according to Poland’s PAP news agency.

Experts said that about a third of Polish crops have suffered amid the unusual spring drought marked by unseasonably high daily temperatures.

This May was the warmest in 55 years in Poland, with average daily temperatures pegged at 18.7 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit), up from 15.3 degrees Celsius last year, Professor Zuzanna Sawinska from the University of Life Sciences in the western city of Poznan told the PAP.

With no rain since May 3, the dry weather has already forced farmers in western Latvia to begin culling their cattle due to a shortage of fodder.

Grain and vegetable farmers in neighbouring Lithuania have also warned of drought-related losses.

“We estimate today that at least 30 percent of the harvest has already been lost,” said Ausrys Macijauskas, chairman of the Lithuanian Grain Growers’ Association, quoted by the BNS.

Published on 28.04.2020

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