The recent flooding in the northeastern Emilia Romagna region has compromised the local fruit harvest for the next four or five years, farmers’ association Coldiretti said.
“The water remaining in the orchards has ‘suffocated’ the roots of the trees, causing them to rot,” explained Coldiretti.
This, the association added, could result in the need to uproot up to 15 million plants in an area known as the Italian “fruit valley” because of its plantations of apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, pears, kiwis and strawberries, among other things, with a significant impact on prices.
Coldiretti said more than 20% of Italian apricots and more than 10% of peaches and nectarines are produced in Romagna .
Coldiretti said protection, water and food must also be guaranteed for the more than 250,000 cattle, pigs, sheep and goats in the flooded areas, where there are also about 400 poultry farms and nearly 45,000 bee hives, many of which are now missing.
Initial monitoring in the provinces of Ravenna, Rimini and Forli Cesena has revealed thousands of dead and drowned animals.
The floodwater and landslides have also damaged greenhouses, stables, machinery and equipment and rural infrastructure, said Coldiretti, adding that “at least 50,000 jobs among farmers and employees in rural areas, industries and processing cooperatives” are now at risk.
The destruction caused by the flooding and landslides in Emilia Romagna is a “tragedy”, but it may also be an opportunity to “rise up stronger”, said Premier Giorgia Meloni after visiting the affected areas on Sunday afternoon.
“The government is present and so are the other institutions,” Meloni told reporters in Ravenna.
“It is necessary to work day by day,” said Meloni, adding that “it is difficult to give estimates” of the damage, but that “many resources will have to be mobilized”. The premier also said this is not the time for “catwalks”.
“I am moved,” she continued.
Meloni brought forward her departure from the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on Saturday in order to take stock of the damage caused by the extreme weather in the northeastern region and oversee the relief operations first-hand.
Photo – The mayor of Monterenzio, Ivan Mantovani, in front of a landslide blocking access to the city, in Monterenzio, Emilia-Romagna region, Italy. EPA-EFE/MAX CAVALLARI